Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
PROVO — It's not often that news from South Florida and Storrs, Connecticut, impacts the BYU football program, but in this week's case, it did.
And more may be coming.
The Bulls announced a two-game series with UConn on Tuesday, which is fine by itself. The Huskies are currently an FBS independent, though they have reportedly reached out to Conference USA about inclusion as a football-only member after that league has lost 11 of its 14 members during the most recent round of realignment set off by Texas and Oklahoma's move to the SEC.
That series is a home-and-home arrangement, beginning with an Oct. 21, 2023, game in East Hartford, Connecticut, and finishing with a trip to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Sept. 2, 2028.
But here's the line of the announcement that probably caught the attention of BYU fans:
"To facilitate the move, USF and BYU have agreed to move their previously scheduled contest at BYU in the 2023 season to 2026, opening room for the UConn game in 2023. The Bulls will now return to Provo, Utah on Oct. 17, 2026."
BYU and South Florida recently completed a two-game, home-and-home series this season with the Cougars' 35-27 win over Timmy McClain and the Bulls back on Sept. 25. The two sides were set to resume another home-and-home deal next year with a trip to South Florida in next season's opener on Sept. 3.
That game will go on as usual. But with the Cougars' impending move to the Big 12 beginning with the 2023 season, athletic director Tom Holmoe has been reshuffling a decades' worth of games to fit into BYU's new conference home. And the first domino to fall was the USF contest.
"BYU fans are going to see many of our football games scheduled for the future move around over the next few years. That's just part of the new reality for us, moving into the Big 12, with a bevy of conference games that we are excited to play," Holmoe told KSL.com. "We are confident that we'll be able to restructure schedules in a way that will be of greatest benefit for our football program, while coming up with solutions to existing contracts."
The USF return game was scheduled for Oct. 17, 2026, giving BYU eight scheduled dates for that season — as well as a contracted game against in-state rival Utah that has not been fixed to a date.
Obviously, that's going to change in the near future. But Tuesday's announcement from USF shows that Holmoe is working on the Herculean task of picking apart his previously crafted independent schedule. BYU has a lot to do before joining the Big 12 in two seasons on a lot of fronts; no surprise that the process has already begun.
The Cougars have 11 games scheduled for 2023, 10 for 2024, and seven for 2023 (plus another unscheduled date with the Utes). After the aforementioned 2026 season, the task becomes less difficult; BYU has four games scheduled for 2027, is for 2028, and no more than four from 2029 to 2035.
Of course, the USF contest may be folded into the Cougars' future Big 12 schedule, as well. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the league would re-examine expansion following the departure of Texas and Oklahoma for the SEC in 2025, and one of the expansion candidates has reportedly been the Bulls.
Boise State and Memphis are the top reported targets for inclusion if the new Big 12 re-expands to 14 teams, but USF and SMU (among others) have received also received interest, according to several reports. It's all highly speculative at this point, but certainly a possibility to bring South Florida into the league as a travel partner for UCF.
A lot has to happen for BYU and USF to meet as Big 12 opponents in 2026. What is known now is that the Cougars will travel to Tampa next season, then wait for the return game to Provo a few extra years. And more movement is coming.