For Cedar City native Mason Fakahua, a one-time quarterback who is now a starting fullback for BYU, SUU’s visit on Saturday is priceless, for obvious reasons.

“I have a lot of friends down there, a lot of brothers down there,” he said. “I am just excited to see all of them. … That’s my hometown right there.”

The in-state clash with a 1 p.m. kickoff at LaVell Edwards Stadium isn’t priceless for BYU, however. The newly minted Power Five school is paying SUU, which plays at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, $425,000 to make the three-hour trip north, according to two contracts obtained by the Deseret News.

“The thing I know about Southern Utah is they are fighters. They have always been fighters. … They are hungry, very hungry. They are a special group. We know that.” — BYU fullback Mason Fakahua

But this agreement is a bit more complicated than that.

The original agreement, signed in June of 2019 by BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and then-SUU AD Debbie Corum, called for BYU to pay SUU $425,000 to play on Nov. 18, 2023.

However, when then-independent BYU received an invitation to the Big 12 in September of 2021 and needed to clear up its schedule of the final 10 weeks of its future schedules, the Cougars agreed to pay SUU an additional $50,000 to move the game to this Saturday, according to an amendment to the original agreement.

Both payments are due no later than 60 days following the completion of the game. However, the amended contract calls for the $50,000 to be applied toward a BYU payment of a future BYU-SUU football game in Provo, and on July 13, 2022, the schools announced that game will be played on Sept. 6, 2025.

A junior, Fakahua will be gone by then, presumably. So will another Cougar who played at SUU from 2020-22, junior tight end Mata’ava Ta’ase. 

Sophomore defensive back Dylan Flowers, walk-on freshman linebacker Kason Krebs and walk-on sophomore defensive tackle Wyatt Dawe were also on SUU’s roster last year and are now with BYU.

“I’m just excited for it,” Ta’ase said last week, a couple days before his father, Tunufa’i Ta’ase, died the morning of BYU’s 14-0 win over Sam Houston. “We are excited to show what we have been working on this fall camp.”

Mata’ava Ta’ase said BYU’s offense is “probably 90% the same” as SUU’s.

Fakahua wouldn’t know about that, having signed with BYU in 2017 after an all-state career as a wishbone QB at Cedar High. After a church mission to New Zealand, he played in nine games in 2021 and 12 games in 2022, mostly on special teams.

However, he’s spent the week telling his teammates to be ready to take SUU’s best shot.

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“The thing I know about Southern Utah is they are fighters,” Fakahua said. “They have always been fighters. … They are hungry, very hungry. They are a special group. We know that. … We saw it last week with Arizona State, how they played. They definitely didn’t give up against a top team.”

Fakahua said he returned to Cedar City this summer and worked out with a lot of the Thunderbirds, including their quarterbacks. He said they talked about Saturday’s game all the time.

“They are excited just to come up here and play,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for them. It is a great opportunity for us. It is all we talked about, really, just working out together and hanging out together down there in Cedar. Both sides are excited.”

Cougars on the air

Southern Utah (0-1) at BYU (1-0)

Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT

LaVell Edwards Stadium

Provo, Utah

TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM