BYU football: Some fences appear to be mended between BYU, Mountain West Conference

Published: Friday, July 5 2013 7:40 p.m. MDT

Cougars leave the field during pre-game as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on Nov. 10 in Provo. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Cougars leave the field during pre-game as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on Nov. 10 in Provo. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Editor's note: This is the seventh in an occasional series examining the issues related to BYU scheduling football games as an independent.

PROVO — It’s been a few years since BYU announced it was leaving the Mountain West Conference to pursue football independence.

While the league and its members weren’t happy about the Cougars’ departure — some vowed to never schedule BYU again — it appears some fences have been mended.

“We actually have a very good relationship with Mountain West Conference people,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said, referring to commissioner Craig Thompson and his staff. “They’ve been helpful to us in scheduling with the teams in the conference that want to schedule us.”

Four MWC teams appear on future Cougar schedules, including three (Utah State, Boise State and Nevada) this year. BYU has a home-and-home with UNLV in 2014 and 2015.

“We have a deal with (UNLV) and (MWC officials) were really helpful with that,” Holmoe said. “I don’t really foresee a problem with us. Individual teams in the conference? We’ll see how that goes.”

Utah State, which is entering its first season in the MWC, has been a longtime opponent for BYU. The two teams have three games scheduled through 2015.

“(Athletic director) Scott Barnes and Utah State have been great,” Holmoe said. “I called (new football coach) Matt (Wells) when he got the job. He looks forward to a great relationship with BYU. … Scott and I are in discussions now (about scheduling future games). Both ADs want to play each other. It's like Utah. We've got to make that work."

Traditionally, the Cougars and Aggies have played on general conference weekend. Could USU’s MWC membership affect that?

"It works; it fits; but I'd be willing to look at a different time outside of that,” Holmoe said. “I’ve always told ESPN that we’d love to play that game in November. USU doesn't think it's (a good idea) right now, but I keep trying to say that would be a big thing in the state. We go there; you come here.”

Could a home-and-home arrangement happen if the two teams schedule games in November? “Possible,” Holmoe said.

Another new team in the MWC, Hawaii, which has joined the league as a football-only member, signed a contract a few years ago to play BYU. The two teams played a home-and-home series in 2010 and 2011. But when the MWC announced that the league’s football championship game would be staged on the same day of a scheduled BYU-Hawaii game in December of this year, the contest was canceled. The two schools also did away with a game scheduled in 2014.

Holmoe said the series with Hawaii, which is led by former BYU assistant Norm Chow, is done for now.

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