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As a predicted target by the Big 12, the “Four Corner” schools of the Pac-12 will join BYU in the Big 12 after the 2023 season. That means the reuniting of BYU and Utah in the same league for the first time since their Mountain West days more than a decade ago. Here is a look at part of the history of the Pac-12 and reuniting of old WAC foes and here is our story on what’s in store for the remaining schools. In this piece, Utah’s administration discusses Big 12, Pac-12 and BYU.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Question of the week: What do you think about Utah joining BYU in the Big 12?

Jay Drew: Seems like the reaction among BYU fans when the Big 12 added rival Utah last Friday, beginning in 2024, has been decidedly mixed. I’ve seen some fans who are thrilled that the rivalry will undoubtedly heat up again, and others who want nothing but “good riddance” when it comes to the Utes.

I’m fairly certain that the Big 12 will seize upon the rivalry and ensure that the Utes and Cougars meet every year in football (hopefully around Thanksgiving, like the old days) even if the league will have 16 teams, making every-year matchups with every Big 12 team impossible.

Long term, I think having Utah in the Big 12 will be a good thing for BYU. Both teams will be on equal footing conference-wise, so some perceived notions that the Pac-12 was superior to the Big 12 will go out the window. That’s a big deal in recruiting, which is where BYU needs to make up some ground on Utah, when it comes to football.

Dick Harmon: As much as some Utah administrators and fans have viewed BYU as irrelevant and cancelable in the past, in reality, the two schools are tied to one another. The Big 12 membership by the Utes and Cougs benefits both the league and TV partners. Brands and rivalries are a top priority for broadcast partners. Rivalries are marketable and draw viewers. There are few more passionate rivalries in the country than BYU and Utah, and it will be promoted as such in the league.

I sense the frustration by many BYU fans that by adding Utah to the Big 12, an opportunity to hurt the Utes by sending them to a glorified Mountain West with other Pac-9 survivors was lost. A chance to hold Utah accountable for a myriad of slights the past decade is gone. But that ship sailed and it is time to buck up and get on with supporting the program and the league and the rivalry.

I disagree with some Utah-based media personalities, who took to the air last week and declared BYU fans didn’t want Utah in the same league because they were afraid of piling up more losses. I’ve never heard that expressed by BYU fans. Toxicity aside, BYU and Utah in the Big 12 is a positive for the expanding league, and we will be treated to some great conference matchups, standings, rankings and competition in the coming years. Annexing the Four Corner schools (Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado) was a target for the Big 12 for more than a year. It came to pass.

Cougar tales

Former Cougar guard Elijah Bryant is doing something no other Cougar has ever done, highlighted in this piece by Dave McCann. BYU’s basketball program lost transfer guard Ques Glover to NIL and the transfer portal before he ever enrolled in school. In this piece, the challenge of finding new non-conference foes for BYU and Utah is explored by Jay Drew. BYU began fall camp despite the college football scene changing around them, wrote Drew. In this analysis, I explain my view of how BYU reacts to Utah joining the Big 12.

From the archives

Like it or not, the Cougars and the Utes are back together
U.S. Soccer snubbed Ashley Hatch. In hindsight it didn’t deserve the former BYU star

From the Twitterverse

Extra points


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Comments from Deseret News readers:

I took the weekend off from all of this conference musical chairs excitement. When I came back this morning and got through some of these posts (I still have about 300 more to go) I see questions about whether or not these Big 12 fans love their football as well as the good folks of Utah.

Back in the ’80s my wife and I drove from SoCal to a new job I took in Texas after we’d been married for a few months. As we went through town after town we’d notice how the high schools had nicer and newer football fields with bigger grandstands than some of the colleges we knew in our home state. When we arrived at our destination, the Dallas- Fort Worth area, and saw how the Sunday papers were full of football news ranging from the Cowboys down to high school level, i.e. several pages full of print, stats and photos (and no room for ads!) it was clear to me that football was like a second religion to these folks all across the state. Weekends down there during football season were ruled by football. Everything else was secondary.

The Utes and Cougars fans, as rabid as we are, will be hard-pressed to keep up with the fans in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa. (Buff fans already know this.) The Arizona schools are way behind on “fan fanaticism levels” compared to the Plains states fans. Fear not, our programs have bitten off quite a mouthful coming over to the Big 12. We’ve all got some serious chewing to do to swallow these changes, my friends.

— CougarCat

The sports fan in me would have loved to see the Utes go down with their arrogant, beloved conference. But I’m bigger than that.

Hey Utah, so glad you found a home, and a paycheck. It turns out that means more than hobnobbing with the research university snobs after all. How ironic, right?

— Sotl97

Up next

Aug. 10 | 5 p.m. | Women’s soccer | at Rutgers | @Piscataway, New Jersey
Aug. 17 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | Saint Louis | @Provo
Aug. 19 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | Cal Fullerton | @Provo

Beginning in the fall of 2024, Utah and BYU will both be members of the Big 12. | Associated Press, Charlie Neibergall
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