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After enduring some heat from local media Tuesday for suggesting Utah fans weren't disappointed that the BYU football series hasn't continued every year, Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill fired back by revealing discussions to keep the Cougars on the schedule every season through 2022.
BYU then confirmed Tuesday night that the two teams have agreed in principle to extend the series to 2019 and 2020, and that contracts were being reviewed by both schools' legal departments. Hill also said in his statement, released Tuesday afternoon he and BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe have discussed tentative dates for the Utes to play the Cougars in 2021 and 2022.
Hill's statement said he was responding specifically to "inflammatory statements" made by a "local radio host toward me personally."
He added: "Neither Tom nor I like to announce things until we have signed contracts in hand, but the circumstances today, when my personal integrity was attacked, led me to believe it is important to let people in the state know our future plans."
Hill did not specify which radio host he referenced in his statement.
Utah took a two-year hiatus from the so-called "Holy War" to schedule home-and-home dates with Michigan, a move Hill said has been met by support from season ticket holders. But Utah has also secured dates with BYU in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to resume a rivalry that since 1922 had been interrupted only by World War II.
There were signs that Hill was taking steps to add dates with BYU: E-mails between Hill and Holmoe obtained by the Tribune showed talks to continue the series beyond 2018. Last week, the Cougars moved up a Wisconsin game in 2019 to 2017, opening a window for a 2019 game in Provo.
Hill had previously said he has shied from scheduling BYU, Utah State and a strong non-conference opponent in the same year, given the already difficult nature of Utah's Pac-12 schedule. Hill's suggestion Tuesday that the 2019/2020 contracts are "on Tom's desk" appeared to place the ball in BYU's court.
Hill generated buzz Tuesday after an interview in the Deseret News quoted him saying about the hiatus, "The deep, dark dirty secret is our fans are not disappointed." He also suggested the series was more in the media's interest than his own.
Jay Drew contributed to this report.