BYU football: Cougars face Utes on Sept. 15 — and hopefully beyond

Published: Monday, Feb. 13 2012 10:33 p.m. MST

Tom Holmoe

Kylea Knecht, KyleaKnecht/BYU

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PROVO — One of the games on BYU's 2012 football schedule — which was announced Monday — includes a game against Utah on Sept. 15 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

As of now, it's the last time the in-state rivals are contracted to play against each other.

But athletic director Tom Holmoe made it clear that he wants that series to continue, and will do everything in his power to make sure that happens.

"I love this game against Utah. It's something we'll have to consider in the future," Holmoe said. "(There are) rumors that we're not going to play the game. All I know is, we're going to play the game in 2012. We're trying like crazy to finish it off and get a contract in the next couple of years."

Holmoe added that both he and his counterpart at Utah, Chris Hill, want the game to be played every year.

"This is a game that's played for a long, long time," Holmoe said. "This is one that BYU does not want to give up ... The Utah series is something we need to be a little more careful about. I'm willing to do anything I can to make sure the series continues."

Besides the Utah game, highlights of the 2012 schedule include a season-opener at home against Washington State and first-year coach Mike Leach, who is a BYU alum; a trip to Boise State; a home game against Hawaii and first-year coach Norm Chow, who was a Cougar assistant coach for more than two decades; and back-to-back road games against Notre Dame (on Oct. 20) and Georgia Tech (Oct. 27).

"Going to Notre Dame and Georgia Tech back-to-back will be tough," Holmoe said. "Anytime you can play Notre Dame in any sport, anywhere, it's great … When our fans hear we're playing Notre Dame start buying tickets."

It will mark BYU's first game against the Fighting Irish since 2005.

Overall, Holmoe said the 2012 schedule is "better than it was last year," which was BYU's first as an independent.

When it comes to scheduling as an independent, Holmoe has learned that it's relatively easy to set up games early in the season. But contracting marquee games in November is tough. Like last season, 2012 features late-season, lackluster games against WAC teams Idaho, San Jose State and New Mexico State.

"I heard complaints last year and it's one of the things we had to do as an independent," Holmoe said. "There was no other way around it."

However, Holmoe is hopeful that future schedules will be much improved. He agreed with coach Bronco Mendenhall's assessment that the 2013 schedule will be the toughest BYU has faced since Mendenhall became head coach.

"As we look to 2013, you're going to see a trend of tougher and tougher teams," Holmoe said. "I've got to be careful as we look at (future schedules) that we don't overdo it."

Holmoe said an announcement about scheduling a couple of high-profile teams in the future will come soon.

"We've been working on these games for years," he said. "It's gone back-and-forth. We just need to finish off the contracts. These are two teams that I think a lot of our fans are going to like."

Holmoe explained that it took time for the schedule to be finalized because teams approached BYU recently about scheduling games for next season.

"In the last two weeks, I actually had two teams call me and ask if we would play in 2012. That blew my mind, because they weren't available up until then. It's bizarre," Holmoe said. "We have more flexibility than anybody in the country. That's why teams will come to us late and say, 'You have an open spot? We're in a little bit of a bind.' I like that part of scheduling. It doesn't feel quite as hectic as it did in 2011 and 2012, going into 2013 and beyond."

Other 2012 scheduling notes:

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