Dr. Saturday

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is still leaning toward ending the Utah-BYU series

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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(Douglas C. Pizac/US Presswire)

The BYU-Utah rivalry — a rivalry that has been played since 1896 (or 1922 if you're a BYU fan) - is inching closer toward the sidelines.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports this week that taking a couple years off from the rivalry might be the best path for his program.

"Bottom line is we've got to do what's best for our program," Whittingham said. "That supersedes anything to do with the rivalry. If taking a year or two off periodically is best for our program, best for our scheduling, then that's what we've got to do.

"Our program is bigger than the rivalry. That's got to take a backseat to us doing what's best for our program."

As I noted in a post back in April, this could mean the death of one of college football's great rivalries and that's a sad prospect. But Whittingham makes the point that the Utes' schedule is already tough with nine conference games and because of the high level of teams coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Utes don't have to schedule some of the bigger name opponents during the nonconference season.

That gives the Utes an opportunity to schedule some easier opponents and perhaps get a positive jumpstart heading into conference play.

"I think the operative word with scheduling with nonconference games is balance," Whittingham said. "The Pac-12 schedule is rigorous. You play nine conference games, which is one more than most conferences play, so that increases the degree of difficulty right there. It's really a function of our athletic director Chris Hill putting this together. I have input and we talk, but both of us are on the same page as far as looking for balance. You don't want to put yourself at a disadvantage by overscheduling your nonconference games.

"There are so many good teams coming into our stadium now, USC, Cal and the list goes on and on, so having a big-time team come into the stadium in your nonconference setting in not as big of a priority because of the great teams we have coming in on a weekly basis in the Pac-12."

Whittingham sounds like a coach who has already made up his mind about discontinuing the series and is already looking forward to games against Southern Utah. That means the final game between BYU and Utah — at least for the foreseeable future - could be Sept. 15.

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