BYU football: Cougars do have some game history with Notre Dame

Published: Tuesday, June 26 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

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Editor's note: This is the fourth in a four-part series examining the relationship between BYU and Notre Dame and the impending start of a six-game football series between the Cougars and the Fighting Irish. Today: How the BYU-Notre Dame series started, and a look back at the six previous games.

PROVO — It was no coincidence that BYU's six-game football series with Notre Dame was announced the same day that the Cougars announced they would be going independent and signing an eight-year broadcasting agreement with ESPN.

Scheduling the Fighting Irish helped legitimize the move to independence and energized the Cougar fan base.

"Our vision is to play football games across the country against many of the storied football programs in their legendary stadiums and to those same highly regarded programs return to Provo to play in LaVell Edwards Stadium," athletic director Tom Holmoe said on Sept. 1, 2010.

Turns out, BYU's relationship with Notre Dame has been decades in the making.

The two teams have met six times on the football field — starting in 1992 — with the Irish holding a 4-2 series lead.

BYU and Notre Dame meet on Oct. 20, 2012, and on Nov. 16, 2013, with both games in South Bend. After that, the two teams will play a four-game, home-and-home series between 2014 and 2020. Exact dates for those games will be announced later.

It all started with former Cougar athletic director Glen Tuckett, who managed to schedule the first six games — a pair of two-for-ones — with the legendary Fighting Irish.

So how did he accomplish that feat?

When it comes to scheduling, a lot of it involves who you know. For 12 years, Tuckett sat on the NCAA television committee with then-Virginia athletic director Gene Corrigan. During that time, the two established a strong friendship.

Then, when Corrigan became the A.D. at Notre Dame, they started talking about scheduling a football series between the Cougars and Irish. The two schools had already faced each other in a memorable NCAA Tournament basketball game, when BYU's Danny Ainge went coast-to-coast for the winning layup against Notre Dame to propel the Cougars to their first, and only, Elite Eight appearance.

"We thought it would be good if our schools played in football. It worked out," Tuckett once told the Deseret News. "I said when we get Notre Dame on the schedule, they should bronze me and send me back to Murray."

The first meeting between the pair of private, religious-affiliated schools (some have affectionately dubbed the series as "The Mormons vs. The Catholics") took place in 1992 in South Bend, with the Irish pounding the Cougars, 42-16.

The following year, in 1993, Notre Dame came to Provo with a No. 3 ranking. The Cougars were coming off their worst loss ever, a 68-14 humiliation at UCLA. But Irish coach, and showman, Lou Holtz spent the week extolling BYU's virtues and bemoaned having to play in Provo against "an angry Cougar."

The Irish jumped out to a 31-0 lead and throttled BYU, 45-20, before the largest crowd ever to watch a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium — 66,247.

Still, there was little shame in losing those two games. Notre Dame had lost only one game in each of those two seasons.

But BYU exacted a measure of revenge in 1994, as the Cougars recorded a stunning 21-14 upset over the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium.

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