This time last year there was a lot of stirring emotions in the college football world. Conference expansion was taking place. The changes weren’t as drastic as they could have been nationally, but the state of Utah experienced much change. Just after the Mountain West Conference invited Boise State, the Pac-10 conference invited the University of Utah to join along with the University of Colorado. The new twelve team conference would allow it to have a championship game and two divisions.
This greatly affected BYU and they made a bold move of their own. Tom Holmoe held a special press conference just before the September 1st deadline to announce BYU’s move to football independence, with all other sports joining the West Coast Conference (WCC). This caused quite a stir on the national scene. Being Independent is not easy. BYU joins Notre Dame, Army and Navy as the only independent programs in the country. Not having a conference affiliation could make things difficult.
The biggest question that has been brought upon athletic director Tom Holmoe has been the difficulty to create your own schedule as an independent football program. He and head football coach Bronco Mendenhall did a good job of getting the 2011 schedule together quickly. The WAC conference applied some assistance by signing a two year agreement to have several of their schools play BYU. That gave Holmoe a little bit of breathing room for the future. He finished 2011 quickly and had most of 2012 scheduled.
Since the schedule for the 2011 was announced last summer, there haven’t been any more announcements. This has made some Cougar fans very antsy and anxious. So anxious that many scheduling rumors have been flying around the internet. An article was released by www.deepshadesofblue.com last week regarding this very topic. (http://deepshadesofblue.com/big-names-lining-up-to-face-cougars/). Rumors of future games with the likes of Nebraska, USC, UCLA and more made many BYU fans happy. (Not to mention the possibility of BYU joining the Big East Conference). This brought much comfort to avid Cougar football fans. They finally had something to chew on until an official announcement was made.
However, yesterday afternoon Tom Holmoe was interviewed by Gordon Monson on 1280 The Zone and was asked about these rumors that everyone has been talking about. Here is what Holmoe had to say when asked about them.
“There’s a lot of internet rumors and they’re mainly wrong. I don’t read them but they are brought to my attention. Some of them are wildly wrong. However if there’s enough people guessing … some will be right.”
Holmoe then began to talk about how the future scheduling is going.
“We have games scheduled out through 2020. We are close to three quarters of the way done scheduling all the way up through 2014. Right now we’re focussing on 2016 and ’17’s schedules. Some seasons we may have thirteen games (because of the Hawaii exception) but most of the time it will be the standard twelve game scheule.”
Tom also addressed a concern many BYU and Utah fans have. In 2011 and ’12 the game between the two schools, known as the Holy War, will be played in September rather than the traditional late November game. Most of the time it’s played as the last game of the regular season. Here’s what he had to say about trying to get it back to that time of the season.
“The Pac-12 is standing strong about not letting their teams schedule non-conference games after September.” Monson then asked him about the USC/Notre Dame match up which takes place late in the year. “Good question!” Tom Said.
Monson then asked Holmoe about teams he and Coach Mendenhall are trying to schedule with. He asked him to list the top teams they’d like to match up against.
“USC would be a great team for us to play. When you schedule them, you have a darn good feeling they’ll be good. Teams like Florida, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State are the ones on top of our list. We have a priority list kind of like a draft board of what teams we’d prefer to play. Bronco helps me out with that too. He’s opened up a lot more because we have 13 games to schedule … not 4. In a conference you can hide behind your schedule and we don’t have that excuse anymore. One of the harder things is that we have some good teams on the schedule one year and I’m feeling good about it … but it’s hard to find balance.” He was referring to having some top tier BCS schools on the schedule but not loading it with just those kinds of teams. Expect to see at least one match up with a D-IAA team and teams from some of the weaker D-IA conferences as well.
Some of the top tier programs are asking BYU to schedule 2-for-1’s with them. Tom talked about how he and Bronco both feel about that.
“…Some teams I talk to will want to do 2 for 1’s with us and that’s not in our best interest. About four years ago Nebraska wanted to play us. We were ranked ahead of them the previous four years yet they still wanted to do 2 for 1’s because they bring in so much revenue. It’s not arrogance … just good business but Bronco and I aren’t interested in that. However if its a top 5 or 6 team it may be in our best interest. This is just an example. We are currently not in discussions with Nebraska.”
He then concluded by talking about if BYU will join another conference in the near future.
“In general we’re not in discussions with anybody on expansion. There’s always interesting things to talk about but there’s nothing going on. We are committed to our long term agreement with ESPN and the WCC. We like the moves we made and where we’re at. We think we can be able to accomplish the goals we set. If something were to change dramatically it might involve us. If so, we’d be crazy to bury our heads in the sand so my antenna is up but right now nothing is going on. It’s very superficial.”
There we have it. Independence is the future of this BYU program. Tom rejected all the rumors of joining a new conference as well as all the stuff about teams they’re in talks with. BYU fans, we are just going to have to be patient. Take Tom by his word. He is busy scheduling, but he will be in control of when the announcements are made and we have no reason to believe that he is allowing those negotiations to be leaked anywhere. The rumors have been put to rest.