LAS VEGAS — Don't go too far from Sin City after this weekend, BYU fans. The Cougars are coming right back.
The Cougars will face fellow FBS independent Notre Dame in 2022 as part of the Shamrock Series at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, according to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
While a specific date is unknown, both schools have open dates available Oct. 8 and Oct. 29, college football writer Mark Anderson reported.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe didn't immediately deny that the two sides were working on a deal to bring the FBS independent rivalry series to Las Vegas. But he didn't confirm it, either — even essentially slowing down the momentum for any immediate excitement about the potential deal.
"Everybody knows that Notre Dame and BYU have a game coming up sometime in the millennium," Holmoe said during BYUtv's pregame "Countdown to Kickoff" from Las Vegas. "It's going to happen when it happens; there's nothing done. Somehow things came out a bit, but nothing is done.
"When that time comes, it will be a great game. We've waited patiently, so we can wait a little longer."
Holmoe did add how much the university "loves Vegas," noting the school's fan fest Friday night where thousands filed into a North Las Vegas park to gather, mingle and enjoy several hours' worth of church-approved activities.
Recently departed quarterback Zach Wilson arrived in Las Vegas to have breakfast with the team Saturday morning, which was joined by a morning devotional with Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well.
"We love Vegas, and Vegas has been a good home for us. It feels good to be back," Holmoe said. "It's just amazing. The other night, we had a fan fest that just exceeded everyone's expectations … it's a family reunions for BYU, the football program, athletics, the university."
It's the latest top college football game to come through the newly christened home of the Las Vegas Raiders. In addition to BYU's season opener Saturday with Arizona, LSU is scheduled to face Pac-12 foe Southern California at Allegiant Stadium in 2024.
The Cougars and Fighting Irish agreed to a six-game contract when BYU first went independent in 2011 that was originally expected to include two games in South Bend, Indiana, followed by a pair of return games in Provo. BYU played at Notre Dame twice — a 17-14 loss in 2012 followed by a 23-13 loss a year later — and have not touched the deal since.
The contract was believed to be amended down to a two-for-one deal between the two schools, though Notre Dame has been reluctant to come west to face the Cougars. The two sides were working on an amicable solution to the contract as recently as 2019 that would include at least one game played in Provo or closer to BYU's terms, while Notre Dame would likely face a buyout for the other three games.
"We've actually been in discussions with Notre Dame the last little while concerning that game, whereas in the past it's been silence," Holmoe told local media during one of his annual media roundtables in 2018. "I feel that we're close to being able to come to some agreement with how we'll settle that contract. And I feel it will be with games, not in a cash sense."
Added Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick in a 2019 interview with The Athletic: "We absolutely will be playing BYU again and look forward to having more details about that in the near future."
The game would likely complete BYU's schedule for 2022, which already included 11 other games.
In addition to Notre Dame, the Cougars also scheduled to face four Power Five programs beginning Sept. 10 at home against Baylor and including Oregon, Arkansas and Stanford.
BYU opens the season Sept. 3 at South Florida, and will also face Wyoming, Utah State, Liberty, Boise State, Dixie State and East Carolina, with the two aforementioned October dates available and the tilt with East Carolina currently unscheduled.
The Cougars are reportedly set to apply for membership to the Big 12 Conference next week and would be at the top of the list to join the league, according to multiple sources, as Texas and Oklahoma depart for the SEC. When that scheduled entry would be is yet to be determined, but it's believed to be no earlier than 2023 by most industry sources.
Asked about those reports among national media on BYUtv, Holmoe also skirted aside the question of Big 12 inclusion.
"I love that everybody is talking about BYU," he said. "I feel like I've said it 300 times in the last seven years: we're going to put ourselves in a position we have our student-athletes being able to play against the very best athletes in the country. When we were in the Mountain West, we tried the best we could. When we went independent, we expanded that quest and continued to grow. Now we're at a spot right now where we keep trying to keep that quest alive.
"We'll see what happens. I just want to make sure that we take care of business tonight. There's a lot going on, but that's what I'll say on this tonight."