Utah Utes, Utah State Aggies football: Last clash in Logan?
Both Utes, Aggies have future scheduling conflicts because of their new leagues
August Miller, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Some may not even call it a football rivalry, considering that Utah has won 12 straight games against Utah State and 20 of 22 stretching back to the 1980s and has outscored the Aggies 154-16 in its last three visits to Logan.
Still, the Utah-Utah State series is the 12th longest in the nation and third-longest in the West. The two schools, 90 miles apart, have been playing each other for 120 years ever since the first Ute-Aggie duel in November of 1892 on the Aggie quad with the home team taking a 12-0 victory.
But it's looking like the longtime series may be coming to an end, at least in Logan, just when the rivalry is starting to look competitive again.
If you listen to Utah State athletics director Scott Barnes, the chances are slim the two schools will play more games in Logan.
While he says "it's hard to say we'll never play again" he also said there's nothing in the works between the two schools beyond the end of the current contract that ends in 2015.
Utah athletics director Chris Hill has also indicated this might be the last game in Logan for awhile.
Hill doesn't discount the idea that this could be the final game in Logan, but leaves the door open as far as future games being played there. However, with the Utes' recent inclusion into the Pac-12 and a limited non-league schedule, it can't continue on a home-and home basis as it has since the late 1960s. Already the Utes have broken up its rivalry with BYU with no games to be played in 2014 and 2015.
Right now, the only two games scheduled between Utah and USU in the future are in 2013 and 2015 and both games are scheduled for Salt Lake. There was a game scheduled in 2014 for Logan, but because the Utes scheduled a two-game series with Michigan beginning that year, they got out of the game by paying Utah State $500,000 (the Aggies filled the gap well, however, by scheduling Boise State at home for that spot).
Barnes says he is not interested in playing Utah if it can't be on an equal basis. When asked about the possibility of a 2-for-1 type arrangement similar to the one the Aggies have had with BYU in recent years, Barnes was resolute.
"It's not something we'd be interested in," he said bluntly.
So if the Utes won't play a home-and-home and the Aggies won't agree to a 2-for-1, its unlikely there'll be more games in Logan, unless it is on a very spotty basis.
It's not like the idea of an unequal amount of home games hasn't happened in the past. Of the 109 previous games between USU and Utah, just 36 games were played in Logan. The vast majority of the games have been played in Salt Lake, a 3-to-1 ratio over the years.
Utah hosted 19 straight games between 1916 and 1935 and nine straight games between 1954 and 1962. However since 1968, the two schools have had a home-and-home arrangement until 2009 when the series took a two year hiatus before the present contract was signed
If you ask the coaches, they'll say they want to continue playing.
"I hope that we do — it is an important game for us and we want to play the in-state games," said USU coach Gary Andersen. "I believe that all of the coaches involved would like to play this game, but you know there are a lot of things that control that other than the coaches, so we will see."
While Utah's Kyle Whittingham talks fondly of games he's played and coached in Logan, he punted on the idea of Utah playing more games in Logan, saying, "That's really a Chris Hill decision. It's something for the A.D.'s to decide."
Most people assume Utah is the one that is keeping the series from continuing because of its membership in the Pac-12. However, Barnes says his school will also have a hard time fitting in all the non-league games it wants once it joins the Mountain West Conference next year.
Right now the MWC plans on an eight-game schedule, but Barnes said that could change and a nine-game slate would make it hard to fit in the in-state games.
"It's eight right now, but who knows?" he said.
Because the Aggies want a breather or two on their schedule, like all teams, as well as some intersectional games they've always played in the past, it would be difficult to schedule both Utah and BYU or even one of them on a regular basis.
As pessimistic as Barnes is about playing the Utes beyond 2015, he said, "It's a stretch to say we will never play Utah again."
But after next year, the Utes and Aggies will not be playing on an annual basis like they have for most of the past century. And perhaps never playing in Logan again.
Battle of the Brothers
Utah (1-0) at Utah State (1-0)
Friday, 6 p.m. MT
Romney Stadium, Logan
Radio: 700 AM, 97.5 FM
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