Why? Because of ugly altercations in two of their past three meetings, including just this past month. Near the end of a Dec. 2 loss to the Utes, BYU’s Nick Emery threw a punch at Utah’s Brandon Taylor. There was also a flagrant foul committed by a BYU player in their 2013 contest that led to an ejection.
So that all makes Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak a little uneasy about playing the Cougars anymore. From his statement:
"The events that have occurred in our recent games with BYU led me to ask Dr. Hill several weeks ago if we could take a cooling off period and put the rivalry on hold. The level of emotions has escalated to the point where there is the potential for serious injury. Chris said he would support me in canceling next year’s scheduled game against BYU. I called and let Coach Rose know our intentions a few days after our game (on Dec. 2)."
Feeling there is a "potential for serious injury" is certainly worthy of concern, but BYU coach Dave Rose was none too pleased at Utah’s decision, hinting at overreaction and a breach of contract. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
"I was very surprised. Shocked, actually," he said. "I have been doing this for 32 years in high school, and junior college, and now the Division I level, and we’ve had hundreds of agreements on games — verbal agreements, handshake agreements, contractual, written contracts. And this is the first time that I’ve had one not fully executed."
A punch, a nasty bowl game and an abrupt cancellation of a game is a pretty busy month for any rivalry. For all you big-school fans thumbing your noses at this cute little animosity — fueled by a combination of religious affiliations, the close proximity of the schools and over 100 years of history — it’s clearly no joke. Only one other thing has ever caused an interruption to their basketball series, active since 1909, and that’s World War II. They also call their annual football meetings the "Holy War." So you know they don’t take this lightly.