LOGAN — Utah athletics director Chris Hill heard from a lot of fans this week, more than he anticipated as a matter of fact, about the importance of the long-standing football rivalry with Utah State.
"It's on our mind to try to figure out how to continue some kind of relationship there," Hill said before the Utes and Aggies met for the first time since taking a two-year hiatus in a series that dates back to 1892. Friday night's game, which USU won 27-20 in overtime at Romney Stadium, was the 110th meeting overall.
Although Hill acknowledged that Utah and USU may not be able to play every year in the future — nothing is officially scheduled beyond 2013 and 2015 games in Salt Lake City — he's hopeful for a resolution.
"We'll try to talk and if there's something that works for Utah State and works for us then we'll try to do something and we'll take a look at that," Hill said.
With only three non-conference games to schedule each year, Hill explained there are a lot of variables that come into play. Utah's membership in the Pac-12 has led to unanticipated things like a home-and-home arrangement with Michigan in 2014 (prompting the Utes to buy out a scheduled trip to USU to avoid having seven road games that season) and 2015.
Because of all the variables, Hill couldn't say for certain if Utah and Utah State would ever meet again in Logan.
"I can't determine that right now. We are still so new in this process that I don't think it's fair to our fans to make some definitive statement that may not be true," Hill said. "...I don't feel comfortable, like I said earlier, making a definitive response because to be quite frank we don't know how the world is going to change."
USU athletic director Scott Barnes noted that both schools have a lot of things to figure out after switching leagues. The Aggies will join the Mountain West Conference next season.
"In our conversations I think one of the things we'd like to figure out is how to do it in the context of both schools being in new conference alignments with new challenges," Barnes said of his discussions with Hill. "But ultimately I know that we would love to figure it out. I can't speak for Chris other than to say that I believe that's his thoughts, too."
After noting that Thursday's game was sold out days in advance and calling it a wonderful event for the state, Barnes acknowledged his obvious preference for the options likely to be considered.
"Our intent for it is to try to make it work with Utah and BYU on a home-and-home basis," Barnes said. " That's exactly where we are and if we can do that we're ready to go."
SCOUT-A-RAMA: The game drew scouts from the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The CFL's British Columbia Lions and Ottawa Renegades were also represented.
SWEET MEMORIES: Among seven former USU athletes who will be into the school’s Hall of Fame on Saturday is receiver James Murphy. Murphy, an honorable mention All-America in 1980, caught 66 passes that year, ranking ninth all-time at Utah State, while his 1,067 receiving yards during his junior year is 10th all-time in school history. He is tied for seventh all-time at Utah State with 17 touchdown receptions, eighth all-time in receiving yards with 2,132 and ninth all-time with 133 career receptions.
When he was an Aggie, fans dubbed him “Murph, the Sweetest Thing on Turf.” In subsequent seasons (one in the NFL, nine in the CFL), his nickname became “Quick.”
“I’m not really quite sure where ‘Quick’ started, somewhere in Canada,” Murphy said. “I don’t really know, I’ve been called a lot things, but I really appreciate the 'Sweetest Thing on Turf.'”
Murphy said the 'Turf' nickname came from either teammate Kenny Thompson or Rick Parros.
“That name was my favorite,” he said. Other inductees at a ceremony Saturday evening will be quarterback Eric Hipple, wrestler Alfred Castro, basketball player Brian Jackson, track athletes Shae Jones-Bair and James Parker, softball player Kristie Skoglund and running back Emmett White.
STANDING-ROOM ONLY: Utah State’s announced sellout crowd of 25,513 is the Aggies' first sell out since reducing the capacity in 2004 when seat back chairs replaced the bleachers on the west side. It’s also the largest crowd since October 11, 2003 when 26,594 saw USU fall 48-21 against Wyoming.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter @DirkFacer Contributing: Brad Rock, Kraig Williams
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