Utah's future football schedules are taking shape.
Athletic director Chris Hill confirmed that the Utes have agreed to home-and-home deals with Louisville and Oregon. They'll face the Cardinals in 2007 and 2009 and the Ducks in 2009 and 2011. Both series will begin on the road and conclude at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
In addition, Nevada will visit Utah in 2006 (on a one-year contract, for now) when new NCAA rules allowing a 12th football game each season take effect.
"Scheduling is getting tougher and tougher. Everyone is trying to get another home game," Hill said. "So it's a little bit tougher than you'd anticipate, but we're making progress."
Though the official contracts are still being drawn up, Hill said the arrangements with both Louisville and Oregon are pretty solid. The parties "agreed to agree" about a week ago.
Had the Utes not crashed the Bowl Championship Series, they would have met the Cardinals in the Liberty Bowl last December. And the Ducks hired former BYU head coach Gary Crowton as their new offensive coordinator, replacing new Ute assistant Andy Ludwig.
Playing high-caliber teams, Hill explained, is part of a scheduling approach that includes annual meetings with rival Utah State and at least six home games each season. The latter is easier now that Texas Christian has joined the Mountain West Conference. Beginning this fall, teams in the league will play four MWC games at home and four on the road every year.Ute non-conference games are filled up through 2008 (They'll play just three this season). Talks, including conversations with Texas (a planned series was postponed by a scheduling conflict caused by MWC expansion), are ongoing beyond that.
A look at Utah's future schedules:
2006 Home (6): TCU, Colorado State, UNLV, BYU, Nevada, Ohio. Away (6): Air Force, San Diego State, Wyoming, New Mexico, USU, UCLA.
2007 Home (6): Air Force, San Diego State, Wyoming, New Mexico, USU, UCLA. Away (6): TCU, Colorado State, UNLV, BYU, Oregon State, Louisville.2008 Home (6): TCU, Colorado State, UNLV, BYU, Oregon State, Weber State. Away (6): Air Force, San Diego State, Wyoming, New Mexico, USU, UCLA, USU, Washington State.