PROVO — It may be a significant shift in the football rivalry between BYU and Utah State, which has exploded of late with the improvement of the Aggie program.
The schools announced Friday the series would change to a home-and-home format from the upcoming season through 2016, and the Utah State athletic director said that's the way he expects the series to continue in the future.
"The escalation of our football program and where we're at is a much different scenario," USU AD Scott Barnes said in a phone interview with KSL.
The long-time arrangement has been a 2-for-1 deal in favor of games in Provo.
Barnes acknowledged that previous decades of struggles contributed to the current scheduling challenges.
"Certainly that probably plays a role," Barnes said. "I think our program was down for a lot of years, and that's history."
BYU has defeated Utah State in football in 22 of the past 25 meetings, but the Aggies have historically been far more competitive in their home stadium. In recent years under head coach Gary Andersen, since hired at Wisconsin, Utah State closed the gap at Lavell Edwards Stadium.
Barnes said he believed the series would continue under home-and-home deals.
The BYU Cougars and Utah State Aggies announced Friday a restructuring of their current football series. Under the new agreement, BYU and Utah State will play four games between 2013 and 2016, with each team hosting the other on their home field twice.
BYU will travel to Logan on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 and Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, while the Aggies will play at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 and Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.
In the official press release, BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said, "I appreciate the working relationship I have with Scott Barnes at Utah State.
"We needed to make some adjustments to our 2014 and 2015 football schedules and in the process were able to add an additional game to the series. Scott has done an outstanding job at USU and is great to work with. We value the longstanding in-state rivalry and look forward to the next four games with Utah State."
"The challenge now becomes getting those home-and-homes with other programs who were looking for an easy win and that's not Utah State," Barnes chuckled. "We're finding ourselves in a position where it becomes harder and harder to schedule non-conference games."
In Provo, the challenge has been finding good reciprocal series in November. Under the newly announced agreement, the teams will play in Logan on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 and in Provo on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. However, in 2015 the games switch to late November. It's a Nov. 28 date in Logan that year. In 2016, BYU and Utah State play on Nov. 26 in Provo.
"We needed to make some adjustments to our 2014 and 2015 football schedules and in the process were able to add an additional game to the series," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. "We value the longstanding in-state rivalry and look forward to the next four games with Utah State."
A spokesman said Holmoe was not available for an interview Friday. The news seemed to be well-received from Provo to Logan.
"Oh, I think it's great," said Hall of Fame former BYU coach Lavell Edwards. "I think they s"Oh, I think it's great," said former BYU coach Lavell Edwards. "I think they should do it every year, and I've always felt that way."
One of the most revered Cougars of all-time, the Hall of Famer spent his playing days at Utah State.
However, Edwards was also around Provo when the Aggies could barely dream of a home-and-home series with the "Y."
"BYU was starting to break in on the national scale and they felt like they needed to play more national teams - not necessarily better teams," Edwards said.
Holmoe in a tweet dated Oct. 1 last year underscored the BYU-favored relationship had "NOTHING to do with respect."
Way excited about it. I think it's long overdue, and it's really a good day for Aggie Athletics.
–Matt Anderson, Logan resident
"We make good $ on home games compared to capacity @ USU," the tweet read.
Still, former BYU athletic director Val Hale said when he held that post, it would have been difficult to imagine a home-and-home series develop with Utah State.
"Back when I was athletic director it wasn't really common and I think it would have been hard to envision," Hale said. "But I think the time has come. I don't think that back when I was athletic director we really ever envisioned being independent, either. Times change and circumstances change and I say good for BYU and good for Utah State that there's a legitimate rivalry forming now between the two schools."
Lay Utah State fans and students expressed even greater optimism Friday.
"Way excited about it," Matt Anderson said in Logan. "I think it's long overdue, and it's really a good day for Aggie Athletics."
USU student Charley Riddle tweeted Friday morning in response to the news by saying, "Waking up and reading about the new schedule made my whole morning. I heard birds singing out my window, they were so happy."
He later told KSL he hoped the home-and-home status would continue forever.
"Hopefully I think over the years it'll make it a little bigger and stuff," Riddle said. "So, little brother is growing up."
BYU/Utah State Football Series
|BYU at USU||Friday, Oct. 4, 2013|
|USU at BYU||Friday, Oct. 3, 2014|
|BYU at USU||Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015|
|USU at BYU||Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016|
Photo: Courtesy of BYU Photo