SALT LAKE CITY — This is the time of year when there's not as much to talk about in the sports world, unless you want to discuss the boring NFL labor negotiations, the NBA lockout (yawn) or the upcoming Roger Clemens trial.
As for college sports, with nothing being played for another month, the main topic these days is schedules as most of Utah's major colleges have recently released their basketball schedules for next year.
I was happy to see that Utah State has agreed to play a three-game series against Mississippi State, which will bring the Bulldogs to Logan in 2013 while they play twice in Starkville in 2011 and 2014. The news came out of Mississippi as USU hasn't released its full schedule yet.
For years, I've advocated two-for-one deals for our college teams, arguing that its better to play a big-name team three times, including once at home, rather than fill your schedule with the likes of Montana-Western, Cardinal Stritch and Cal State-Santa Claus, er, Stanislaus.
However, most local coaches have shied away from such arrangements, implying that it's beneath them to have to play two games on the road to get one at home.
The way I figure it, they're assuming they'll get beat twice with only one chance to win. Maybe so. But your team has to lose some games anyway, so it might as well be to a big-name team on the road. And who knows? Your team might play its best game of the year and beat the big-name team on the road and subsequently get all sorts of national attention. Isn't it worth the risk?
And even if you do lose those road games, the upside is that your home fans will get to see a big-name team rather than one of the aforementioned dogs.
Heck, if Duke or Kentucky would agree to come to Utah for a game, I'd play them three or four times at their place in return. Your fans would have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play a legendary school and you'd have the chance for a road upset, as unlikely as it might be.
On the other hand, I was not happy to see that Utah and Utah State will not be playing each other this season for the first time since World War II.
The two schools apparently couldn't come to an agreement on where to play the games, with the Utes reportedly insisting on playing future games against the Aggies in Salt Lake — treating the Aggies like Southern Utah, which used to come to the Huntsman Center every year until a few years ago.
Utah and Utah State should be playing every year, trading off home and home as they've always done for many years. Sure it's hard to win in Logan, but again, games shouldn't be scheduled according to ability to win. Two rivals 90 miles apart that have played 223 times going back to 1909 should keep playing each other.
For that matter, so should Utah and Weber State, which may have to end their longtime home-and-home deal now that the Utes are in the Pac-12.
It's true the Utes have two fewer non-league games now they've joined the Pac-12. And it's nice to get out and play different teams around the country.
But with at least 10 non-league games, local schools should be a priority on the schedule. Playing BYU every year should be the top priority, but certainly the Utes can come up with a way to play Utah State or Weber State or both, on a home-and-home basis in the future.
Look at this year's U. schedule, which features road games against Boise State and Fresno State. Each of those schools has been in the same league as Utah State for the past several years. Why not play in Logan, instead of Fresno? Not only will you play a rival, but you'll save a lot of money.
The problem is, the Utes don't like losing in Logan, where they haven't won since 1996.
However, instead of saying, "We're not going to play there any more because it's too hard to win," how about saying, "We're going to get good enough so we can beat Utah State in Logan."
How's that for a novel concept?