The Holy War just became the Holey War. The Deseret Duel will not continue for the two rival football teams for the next few years.
Chris Hill, athletic director for the University of Utah announced Tuesday that the Cougars and the Utes will not play in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
No rivalry games are guaranteed for the 2013 and 2016 seasons, as the contracts between the two universities are currently pending. However, both Hill and BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe expressed their confidence that the games will take place during those seasons.
The “Holy War” rivalry, which began in 1896, has only been interrupted once, in 1945.
It took a World War to keep the Utes and Cougars from playing each other that year. What could stand between the Cougars and Utes now?
The Michigan Wolverines.
The Utes recently announced an upcoming series with the Wolverines for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, a move that likely jeopardized the rivalry game occurring during those years.
“When we joined the Pac-12 Conference, we knew there would be opportunities for Utah athletics that were never available before,” Hill said. “A home-and-home series with Michigan is an example of something that we would not have envisioned even a few years ago and felt we could not pass up.”
The Michigan Wolverines is like the new girl who moved into town and broke up the cute couple everyone was cheering for.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe expressed his disappointment in his response to the rivalry’s cessation.
“As a former player and coach I love the BYU-Utah rivalry. It is one of the great rivalries in all of sports,” Holmoe said. “There is so much history and tradition in the game. I understand that Utah has some challenges with scheduling, but, as I have indicated on several occasions, it is our preference to play the game every year. In the future, I know we can find a way to make that happen.”
The rivalry’s rift isn’t exactly unexpected. Ever since the Utes’s conference re-affiliation with the Pac-12 and the Cougars’s disaffiliation into independence, there has been talk of whether the rivalry would continue. In a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham hinted to a possible break in the rivalry.
“Bottom line is we’ve got to do what’s best for our program. That supersedes anything to do with the rivalry,” Whittingham said. “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.”
The Utes and Cougars comatose clash is just the most recent addition to a plethora of dilapidated famed rivalries. Florida/Florida State, Colorado/Colorado State, Iowa/ Iowa State, Texas A&M/Texas, West Virginia/Pittsburgh, Kansas/Missouri and Notre Dame/USC are just a few of the famous rivalry games that have temporarily or permanently ceased.
Despite their dissatisfaction with the rivalry ending, the Cougars are confident they will be able to schedule an increasing amount of quality competition in the subsequent seasons.