This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Las Vegas • Utah State has played Utah 112 times in football since 1892, but the rivalry is dormant for now.
"There's no contract on the books with Utah," USU coach Matt Wells said at the Mountain West Conference preseason media days. "They are not on the schedule."
Although the Utes won 14 of the past 15 games against Utah State, the Aggies had been competitive recently. In 2012, they won, 27-20. In 2013, they lost, 30-26. Last season, Utah prevailed, 24-14.
According to Wells, the Aggies' ability to play better was helping turn the game into an actual rivalry, instead of simply an in-state series dominated by the Utes.
That's one reason Wells would like to play Utah again, even though it might not happen for a long time.
"It's a fun game for us," he said. "… I wouldn't mind it coming back."
Wells says MW still tops AAC's skill level
Wells doesn't believe the American Athletic Conference has surpassed the Mountain West in the Group of 5 power rankings.
Others disagree, mostly because of the rapid rise of Houston's football program.
Said Wells, "When you look at the AAC, they took that step forward when Houston won that bowl game, against a real power program in Florida State. Great job by them doing that. But I would argue the Mountain West is right there in terms of the Group of 5."
Wells says winning games in the Mountain West is extremely difficult, especially in a division with Boise State, Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico and Wyoming.
"Look at the Mountain Division," he said. "Two years ago, we had four teams with 10 wins. Last year, five of the six teams went to bowl games. Strength, Parity. Competitiveness. … You have to be ready to play every week."
Late kickoffs a 'huge issue'
Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson says late kickoffs for the sake of accommodating television is "a huge issue," not only for his league but for everyone.
Thompson spoke to a Pac-12 coach recently, who said late-night kickoffs are also plague on his P5 conference.
"There is probably no larger issue with our athletic directors than the late kickoffs," Thompson said. "But it's just something we're going to have to say, 'Where is the happy medium.' "
TV money, of course, dictates the starting time of hundreds of college football games each season. But it can also hurt attendance.
"We could change it tomorrow," Thompson said. "But we would lose millions in revenues."