The BYU Cougars announced a home-and-home series Thursday with the Tennessee Volunteers, further diminishing the likelihood that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will go to Provo as promised before 2021.
The two private universities announced a six-game deal in 2010, with four games scheduled for South Bend and the remaining two in Utah.
BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe confirmed three of those games were scuttled after Notre Dame announced its partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But Holmoe held the door open that the Irish would live up to the terms of a “two-for-one,” since the Cougars already satisfied their end by visiting the Irish in 2012 and 2013.
“When they (Notre Dame) had the opportunity to do a scheduling agreement with the ACC it changed things, ” Holmoe said in 2015. “It’s hard for me to take a real hard stand on that because, somewhere in the future, we might have to do the same thing.”
“We’re going to work it out one way or another. If they come back to play us (in Provo), that would be great. If they don’t, then there will be some type of settlement and we’ll part as friends.”
The Irish and Cougars have just two common open dates on their 2017-2020 schedules: Oct. 31, 2020 and Nov. 21, 2020.
The Irish have two open dates in 2018 - Sept. 15 and Oct. 6 - but the Cougars have games against Wisconsin and Utah State, respectively, already scheduled for that weekend. The Cougars will play the Volunteers on Sept. 7, 2019, the only remaining open date the Cougars and Irish shared for that year.
BYU doesn’t have a game scheduled for Oct. 10, 2020, but the Irish will be hosting the Stanford Cardinal that weekend. That leaves the two dates previously mentioned. The Irish and the USC Trojans will play in Los Angeles on Nov. 28. It seems unlikely that the Irish would make a trip to Utah a week prior to a trip to California.
Neither Michael Bertsch, Notre Dame director of football media relations nor Brett Pyne, BYU football media relations director, responded to an e-mail seeking confirmation that the two schools were still talking. Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s athletic director, hasn’t commented publicly on the BYU series since December 2015.
“The BYU focus was always on two three-game increments. … Whether we get to the next set of two home and one away, I hope to, but we got to make the scheduling work for that,” Swarbrick told The Observer, Notre Dame’s student newspaper.