Mississippi State and BYU announced earlier in March that they would play each other in a home and home in 2016 (Provo) and 2017 (Starkville). While the matchup itself is entertaining, so are the details of the contract between the two schools to play the game.
Our friends at SBNaiton.com managed to pick up the contract for us from Mississippi State.
In the contract, the dates are set for October 15 for the game at BYU and October 14 for the game in Starkville. For both contests, the road team or its conference will assign and pay for the on-field officials, and the home team or its conference will take care of the replay officials. Each squad will be guaranteed $250,000 for hitting the road to play the game.
It is also a safe bet that barring conditions entirely beyond the control of the canceling team such as an Act of God, war, government restrictions (an interesting consideration given that the two teams faced this issue in 2001 due to the terrorist attacks on 9/11) or the move to join a different conference, a change in conference scheduling that requires nine conference games a season, or a mutual cancellation agreement that the teams will play the contests. Should a team default without the previously mentioned causes, the defaulting team would have to pay $1 million per contest cancelled.
Tickets for the game will be a tough get for the visitors in the contest. Each school will get 300 complementary tickets when on the road, and they will also have the option to have 2,500 tickets to sell. Seats for the visiting team's band must come from that allotment of tickets.
Of the conditions in the contract that are the most interesting to read may be the clause about joining a different conference or having a conference switch scheduling to nine conference games. In Mississippi State's case, the move to a nine-game conference schedule seems a bit unlikely before these contests in 2016 and 2017. The Bulldogs have already scheduled these Power-5 games into 2022, and that lends support to the idea that the SEC is not looking to change the scheduling format any time soon. However, it must be enough of a possibility that Mississippi State built the contingency into the contract.
Also of note is the clause about joining a different conference. While it is highly unlikely Mississippi State would be in a new conference at that time, the Cougars are often mentioned as a team that might be recruited into a conference. Should that happen, BYU could very well need an out from this game. However, in that situation, the conference must have at least four schools currently in a Power-5 conference, and the decision to cancel the game must be communicated within 12 months of joining the conference, but 18 months prior to the contest. In short, the clock is already ticking on this window for 2016. If BYU does not join a conference or (much less likely) Mississippi State does not change conference affiliations by June 2015, the defaulting team would be on the hook for the 2016 matchup.