It's hard to beat writing a lede better than this one by CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli, which puts things into perspective, but anyway, the Arizona football team has scheduled a three-game series with the BYU Cougars. It begins a few years into the future, so withhold excitement for another time. That's not to say it's a good sign for the growth of Arizona's brand name.
The kicker of course is that the first game of the series in 2016 will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz, (As an aside, yes, the stadium will still have the University of Phoenix name; in fact, it'll only be 10 years into a 20-year naming rights deal). It's the first time the Wildcats will have played in the Phoenix area and not against ASU since (sheesh) 1994.
The Cougars and Wildcats will meet in Tucson in 2018 and then in Provo, Utah, in 2020.
Again, the most important part here is that Greg Byrne is finally taking Arizona into the Phoenix market. While the local Tucson market and UA support might never have pushed for such things -- well, it really hasn't -- it's taken Byrne's ASU degree and outsider perspective to make a splash outside of the Old Pueblo.
It's come in the form of two Phoenix scrimmages for the football team, a scrimmage last October for the baseball team against the Los Angeles Angels' instructional league team, and now with a football game in an NFL stadium -- and to think it wasn't long ago the Cardinals were playing in a college stadium.
BYU's influence in the Phoenix area is a big deal in this football agreement getting done as well.
But this isn't just a big money-maker. Byrne's push into the heart of the ASU market is impressive enough, and while the Sun Devils get games dropped by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Arizona is adding to its marketing momentum. That doesn't mean Byrne's work is done. Years of standing pat and being satisfied by the Tucson market despite Arizona's propensity to travel well -- it's not so much traveling, but there are plenty of Wildcat alumni already in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, New York, etc. -- hasn't been fully utilized by the athletic department.
The Wildcats are catching up.