This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
Although it was nowhere near the candidate for Big 12 expansion then as it is now, BYU performed well that last time it tangled with a Big 12 club, curb-stomping Texas 41-7 in Austin in 2014. That came a year after the Cougars routed the Longhorns 40-21 in Provo.
Saturday's matchup against the Big 12's West Virginia at FedEx Field in the Washington, D.C., area is another big audition for the Cougars, right?
Well, not exactly, according to head BYU coach Kalani Sitake.
"That doesn't add anything [to the game]," Sitake said Monday when I asked him about it at his weekly press briefing. "I am not worried about anything other than West Virginia, a well-coached team. They got some momentum. They are coming off a bye. We are focused on the opponent, not worried about all the politics and everything behind it. That has not even entered our minds. Right now we are focused more on ourselves, trying to get ready and making sure that we play assignment sound football so we can make some improvement on the offensive and defensive and special teams phases. That has no bearing on what we are doing, on our preparation right now."
What's WVU coach Dana Holgorsen's take on whether BYU's desire to get into the Mountaineers' league adds intrigue to the so-called "neutral site" matchup?
"I certainly think it does for BYU," Holgorsen said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday. "They have been pretty adamant about wanting into the league. This game was scheduled, probably, 10 years ago. So this was scheduled a long time before West Virginia and the Big 12 were even a thought."
(The game was scheduled in 2010, announced on Sept. 23 that year)
" I know BYU is pretty adamant about playing anybody, anywhere, and they don't care where it is at. They will come into the East Coast. It is not unusual," Holgorsen continued. "Us playing neutral site games is not unusual. Us playing over in the Baltimore-D.C. area is not unusual as well.
It excites out fan base to play a national team, and to be able to do that at a neutral site will add to the intrigue of the game overall."
BYU safety Micah Hannemann said playing a Big 12 team brings intrigue, but not because of the Big 12 deal. It's because WVU is a Power 5 team, he said.
"The past three games have been against the Pac-12, which I feel we should have won all three," Hanneman said. "But the Big 12, same thing. Just more stuff to prove. We want to prove that we can play in those conferences. So, it will be good."
Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman asked Holgorsen if he would prefer a school closer to Morgantown, W.V., joining the Big 12, instead of one 2,000 miles away.
"That's a tough question to answer, honestly," Holgorsen said. "I think we need to expand. I've been pretty vocal about that. I think we need to have a championship game. I've been vocal about that. The thing about the BYU-West Virginia thing, it will only be a once-every-four-years game, I would anticipate. I mean, it would have to be a North-South deal or an East-West deal to where we probably wouldn't be playing them every other year. So I dunno, I have voiced my opinion.
But all those [decisions] are in the hands of the commissioners and the athletic directors and the presidents. How this thing is figured out, I am not quite sure."
Holgorsen said he's heard there is a "big Mormon population" in the East and expects BYU to have its fair share of fans.
"I am a big fan of [neutral site games] and I think it is good for both universities. We are going to continue to do that in the future," he said.
As expected, most of the questions for Sitake on Monday revolved around the quarterback situation, and you can read more about his decision to stick with Taysom Hill here.
The coach was also asked about the boos sprinkled throughout LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, and a tweet from offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho criticizing fans who did so.
"My job isn't to tell fans what to do," he said. "That's why they are called fans. They can voice their opinions however they want. I didn't know about our players voicing [concern], or whoever did, or what. Our players appreciate our fans. I appreciate our fans. We know there is a lot of great, loyal fans. We have seen it. We saw it Saturday night. We see it everywhere we go. So I appreciate the support we are getting, and I know our players do, too.
So if there are a few fans that voiced their displeasure, that's OK, that's their right. Like I said, we gotta give them more to cheer about. That's my job and we will get it going. Our players, all of them show appreciation, but we are not in the business of telling fans how to act and how to fall. I am just grateful that they are there, that we have the support, however you take it.
If there are boos, let's turn them into cheers. That's my job."