Utah lawmaker wants local teams to face off

Utah and Utah State have played 223 games in a long-running rivalry that dates back to the 1908-09 season, but it might be over with Utah moving to the Pac-12 and no longer willing to play at Utah State.

However, if Utah state senator and USU fan Lyle Hillyard has his way, the rivalry will be forcibly revived as he wants the legislature to mandate state-funded schools play at least three games every year against in-state schools or face fines, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

"If they're not willing to help the other schools with economic development and getting big crowds out, maybe they ought to contribute some of the money so it could be spread among the other schools and make up some of that loss," said Hillyard, R-Logan.

Hillyard had asked legislative attorneys to draft a bill to enact the mandate but dropped it because time was running out in the 2011 session.

His proposal would essentially guarantee that the rivalry between Utah State and the University of Utah continues, despite much-publicized comments earlier this year from U. coach Jim Boylen that he didn't want the Utes to play the Aggies.

Boylen has since been fired, but Hillyard still wants to explore the potential arrangement and has asked the Legislature's Education Interim Committee to study the issue, and he may bring it back when the Legislature convenes next year.

Utah State of course would support the idea given coach Stew Morrill's general unwillingness to schedule teams that don't make the return trip to the Logan, where the Aggies have one of the best home-court advantages in America.

"We were scheduled to go [to Utah] next year, but we are not going to schedule them unless it is home-and-home," Morrill said in November. "Would you? It is the in-state school and the university of the state. Most often times, those two schools play in most states. They have got a right to do what they want to with scheduling, but from a tradition standpoint it is really too bad."

Utah athletic director Chris Hill sounded lukewarm to Hillyard's idea.

"I think that we’re a little uncertain," he told the Salt Lake Tribune. "The issue for us is mandating some away game.

"Without knowing exactly what he's proposing, I don't know how much it will affect us. I would want us to have a thorough discussion before it's implemented."