No Holy War in 2013?

Brigham Young University and the University of Utah have a storied football rivalry entitled the Holy War. The last twelve meetings between the two schools have been split 6-6. Ten of those games have been decided by single digits and many have been decided on the last play of the game. Even last season when Utah was ranked and 9-2 and BYU was 6-5, the Cougars dominated the entire game and led 13-0 after three quarters. Utah had a 17-16 lead and Brandon Burton blocked what would’ve been a game winning field goal as time expired. Everyone remembers the last second touchdown from BYU quarterback John Beck in the corner of the end zone to Johnny Harline in 2006. You don’t see stuff like that anywhere else but the Holy War.

Before I contributed my writing efforts to TBS, I wrote about keeping this rivalry intact in a personal sports blog. It was uncertain how the scheduling would pan out with Utah in the Pac-12 and BYU being independent. I bring it up again now because it is looking like the game may not be able to happen in 2013.

Look at the 2013 schedule for the Utes. Now check out the Cougars ’13 lineup. As reported by the LA Times the Pac-12 has a clause in their new television contract that will be difficult for the Holy War to be played later than September:

There is … a clause in the new Pac-12 contract that restricts the scheduling of non-conference football games to the first three weeks of the season without a waiver carrying the approval of all 12 of the league’s athletic directors.

However, Pac-12 commissioner, Larry Scott, there is an exception:

…the USC-Notre Dame game, one of the nation’s longest and most tradition-filled rivalries, is exempt from the mandate, as is the Stanford-Notre Dame game.

Here’s the hypocrisy with that statement. The Holy War has been played either 92 or 86 times. (It depends on if you count the six times BYU was the Brigham Young Academy (BYA). Most don’t). Notre Dame vs USC? 82 games. Stanford has only played Notre Dame 25 times. Larry Scott … explain yourself.

So as we have looked at the 2013 schedule for the Cougars and Utes there are only two ways the Holy War can happen. First, Utah must get a waiver from Scott and the Pac-12 to allow the game to played later in the season, or both teams need to shuffle around some games. Utah State just announced their future games with the Utes and the Cougars so it’s unlikely that they would alter that one already scheduled. The most likely scenario is the Hawaii game being moved for BYU. Athletic Director Tom Holmoe has mentioned that the game in Honolulu would like to be played in November traditionally. Also, Holmoe said he and Utah AD Chris Hill wish to keep the rivalry intact as reported by Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Asked about the future of the BYU-Utah rivalry, Holmoe said he talks weekly with Utah AD Chris Hill and that the schools plan on playing each other at least once a year in every sport.
“It will be as intense, if not more,” he said. He wants the BYU-Utah football game moved back to November, but acknowledged that it probably won’t happen.

I would expect BYU and Hawaii to move the game to November in 2013 and all will be well in the Holy War. Sure we’d all wish for it to be moved to around Thanksgiving every year again but for reasons unclearly explained, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

The Holy War hasn’t been officially scheduled past the 2012 season even though both schools intend on extending it. It’s the scheduling complications that is getting in the way, but I can expect the game to continue to be played yearly. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

About the author


Jimmie is the co-host of the J&J Podcast, a Documenter at DMBA, a single dad, and a singer/songwriter. His music can be found at his website Follow him on twitter @JimmieChesh. Follow the J&J Podcast on twitter @j_jpodcast.


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  • Great piece. I actually have no problem with the rivalry taking a year or two off. Its become too heated for my taste and a VERY vocal minority of fans and players have taken it to a level that is utterly unnecessary. I love this rivalry and I love the games, but it could really use a cooling off period to help everyone put it into perspective. Its just football, after all.