“We’re not killing this thing.” That was from Utah Athletic Director Dr. Chris Hill in an informal yet exclusive luncheon meeting with reporters Tuesday afternoon at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Hill said Utah will not play BYU in football in 2014 and 2015. In 2013 Utah will play at BYU and then after the two year hiatus they’ll meet again at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2016. No other games between the two schools have been scheduled after that.
Dr. Hill may not be “killing” the rivalry but he’s definitely putting it on life support as the two schools will fail to play for the first time since 1943 through 1945. That stoppage was because of World War II. Obviously understandable but the cause of this one? The Michigan Wolverines. After repeatedly saying that the Utes had a great opportunity I asked Dr. Hill if it really comes down to the fact he’s choosing Michigan over BYU. He said he doesn’t look at it that way but really that is the case. As the man in charge of assembling the schedule Dr. Hill essentially determined that playing Michigan for two years was more important than BYU.
Now to Dr. Hill’s defense much of his reasoning makes sense. As he said, “You can’t play 11 difficult games and be successful.” Considering that the Pac-12 requires members to play nine conference games that leaves only three non-conference match-ups to schedule. As Hill laid out he approaches that in three tiers:
A-Teams: A difficult game in which the Utes have to play well or in his word “stretch” to win.
B-Teams: Tough games where Utah has to still play well to win.
C-Teams: Games in which the Utes don’t have to play their best and still win. Translation: FCS cream puffs.
Hill said he considers BYU an “A” game. If that’s the case I guess that means Michigan is an A+. From a business perspective I get it. Your school went from the “little brother” to the “popular kid” by just joining the Pac-12. And when that happens you suddenly you become more attractive and the “in-crowd” starts giving you attention. In this case it’s a legendary Big Ten program wearing the Maize and Blue. But by being lured in you forget about your old friends (or in this case foes) and then what eventually happens? You realize you miss them and usually find your way back. Maybe for Utah that won’t be the case and but I’m pretty sure when it’s all said and done it will be for the fans. Well at least the missing part.