Football Realignment Dings Strong Rivalries


Read it and weep. The Holy War is no more. At least that is the talk taking place in the state of Utah where a pair of bitter rivals, the Brigham Young Cougars and Utah Utes, may put an end to a rivalry dating back to 1909.

college footballUtah is bound for the Pac 10 (Pac 12) conference and may not be able to schedule BYU once that move takes place. Then again if the schools decide to still play each other, they’ll likely meet in September before conference play begins instead of during their customary seasoning ending game in late November when the bowl stakes are high. Few people believe that BYU-Utah would be the same rivalry no matter what happens.

Utah, Boise State, Nebraska and Colorado are four schools who announced in June that they are moving out of their current conferences to what they hope will prove to be greener pastures. Let’s take a look at all four schools and some of the rivalries they’ve enjoyed and which ones may soon vanish:

Utah – The BYU game may survive, but as mentioned it won’t be the same. Even if it were somehow still held at the end of the season. Since 1909 the two schools have played in the same league, building up a century of animosity that some consider to be the best “hate” game in America. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah wants to keep the rivalry going with athletic director Chris Hill stating, “It is our full intention to continue with that passionate rivalry….” Yes, but it won’t be the same. Don’t be surprised if the Utes start scheduling games against the Utah State Aggies if the BYU arrangement folds.

Boise State – The Idaho Vandals haven’t beaten the Broncos since 1998, an in-state series first played in 1971. Clearly, Boise State is a program on the rise while the Vandals’ franchise is not. Though the schools might be able to schedule a non-conference meeting annually, the Broncos’ priority is the Mountain West Conference and raising its visibility nationally by scheduling strong nonconference opponents. The four decade rivalry will likely expire after this season.

Nebraska – The Cornhuskers may find a way to keep one of its rivalries alive, but not all of them. Nebraska and Oklahoma are no longer scheduled every season, a rivalry that changed when the Big 8 became the Big 12. Other top games include Texas, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas, but with the Big Ten soon to be its home, look for the Cornhuskers to focus on Michigan and Ohio State instead.

Colorado – Likely, the Buffaloes will continue to open the season against the Colorado State Rams, a non-conference game that typically is a “W” for Colorado. Their most bitter rival in recent years has been Nebraska and that rivalry isn’t likely to survive as both schools make their way to new conferences. Colorado-Utah, anyone?

Ending long and bitter rivalries is considered anathema to fans, but with cash the only driving force in conference expansion, expect that concern to be sacrificed at the altar of financial expediency. Storied rivals die or change in importance, but new rivalries are likely to emerge once each team is at home in their new conference.

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