For some BYU and Utah State football fans, news last month that their football series known as the Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel is being canceled from 2023 through 2026 was heart-wrenching.

After all, the annual rivalry game has become more intense and competitive the last decade or so.

The breakup letter, as it were, sent by BYU to Utah State notifying the Aggies that the Cougars were canceling the four football games was recently obtained by the Deseret News through an open records request to USU.

The letter arrived, interestingly enough, on Valentine’s Day.

“While we don’t have the Aggies scheduled beyond 2022 at this point, we will continue to work together to play this in-state game again in the future.” — BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe

The email sent on Feb. 14, 2022, “serves as official notice of BYU’s cancellation of the football games between USU and BYU scheduled for Sept. 16, 2023 (at USU), Oct. 4, 2024 (at BYU), Oct. 3, 2025 (at USU) and Oct. 2, 2026 (at BYU),” reads the letter signed by BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe.

“No liquidated damages or guaranteed amount are due either party” and “no rescheduling of either of the cancelled games is required, and BYU considers the Agreement terminated,” Holmoe notes in the email to USU vice president and athletics director John Hartwell and copying USU deputy director of athletics Jerry Bovee.

Related
Big 12 membership forces BYU to cancel four future contracted football games with Utah State from 2023 to 2026
Commentary: Cougars, Aggies and collateral damage
Where do BYU’s Tom Holmoe, USU’s John Hartwell rank among non-Power Five athletic directors?

The letter is the only written or electronic correspondence between the schools regarding the matter. If Holmoe, Hartwell and Bovee communicated more regarding the breakup, they did so via telephone or in person, according to USU open records officials.

Almost three months after receiving the letter, Utah State announced the cancellations via a news release the morning of May 12, with Hartwell saying the schools “have a long-standing history of annual competition on the football field and our goal is to continue the rivalry.”

Less than an hour after the USU news release, Holmoe issued a statement saying Big 12 membership prompted the “many adjustments” to the schedule.

• BYU letter to Utah State to terminate four-game series

“While we don’t have the Aggies scheduled beyond 2022 at this point, we will continue to work together to play this in-state game again in the future,” Holmoe said.

Hartwell said USU was “disappointed to see the series go away for now,” but is “committed to working with BYU to find scheduling opportunities in the future.”

The Cougars and Aggies will play on Thursday, Sept. 29, in a game that was part of a previously contracted series. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. MDT and will be televised by ESPN, both schools announced last week.

Playing the game on a Thursday enables BYU to have a couple extra days to prepare for its Oct. 8 contest against Notre Dame at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. That game kicks off at 5:30 p.m. MDT and will be televised by NBC.

BYU and Utah State line up during a game in Logan on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Both teams can hit the 11-win mark with bowl wins.
BYU and Utah State line up during game in Logan on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News