BYU AD Tom Holmoe talks about bowls, football scheduling, Jake Heaps, superconferences and more
As I mentioned last Thursday on Twitter, I spent 15 minutes or so talking to BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, along with a couple other reporters, at the Armed Forces Bowl news conference last week. We talked about a variety of issues with Holmoe, including BYU football's first season of independence, scheduling, and that new scheduling agreement between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten and how it might affect the BYU-Utah rivalry football game in the future. Here is most of the transcript from that chat:On the Pac-12 and Big Ten scheduling agreement and how it would affect BYU scheduling and BYU-Utah rivalry: "From what I have heard, they are not going to start up football right away. I think it is an interesting concept for all the other sports. It is kind of interesting to me think that there haven't been a lot of times where Big Ten and Pac-10 schools played each other in nonconference games. But it seems to me as we've talked to Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, they are very careful about their nonconference schedule. So I don't think you are going to see them playing a full array of games [against each other]. They might play a game. That would be interesting. You would think that would be a big-time team. That would kind of leave two other games. And who are you going to play? So it could affect us, possibly, eventually, with those teams. But we are kind of scheduled up for a few years. No, not scheduled up. But we have some of the bigger teams on our radar, we are close to some teams like that." On the bowl contract with Armed Forces Bowl and how it came about:"The alternative would have been to be a free agent, and go, 'Ok, take us.' And I didn't even really look at it this year to see how that could have gone, what bowls we possibly could have gotten into. The first year, I wasn't about to get left out. Because it is possible ... I think it turned out good. We have a good opponent, kind of one of the matchups that looks like it is close, at least pregame. We got two games set up in the next two years, too. And now we are started to talk to people. After the next two years, bowl games will start to run out of their contracts. So what we will do is we will start to talk to them to see if we can get into a game that would be maybe a BCS .... like where BCS conferences would go six years, five year contracts, seven years, and then we would try to get into there and break it up. You might think, 'how would you do that?' Similar to the feeling, like the Vegas [Bowl. When we went five years in a row, there was always that talk that we might play the fifth place Pac-10 team. Then we might play the same team. There are always the possibilities of [repeat] matchups. Some of the [athletic directors] are talking about trying to avoid that, and getting into another game every so often." On whether they are close to releasing next year's football schedule: "Yeah, for next year we are pretty close. It is just that one of the teams we are playing, we haven't solidified some of the details with the contract. It is agreed upon, some of the key things. But nowadays, there are a lot of things in a game contract that are discussed before it is finalized."On the WAC football scheduling deal not being renewed: "We just figure that if we want to play a WAC team in the future, we will just schedule them. But it gives us a little bit of time to go out and do that, where we didn't have the time before because when we got ready to go independent, most teams' schedules for the next two years were already full, especially this year. So that was the only way we felt we could make that choice to go independent, was to find some teams that would play us. Without those WAC teams, we wouldn't have been able to play an independent schedule this year." On whether bigger bowls are seeking out BYU: "They are ESPN bowl games. So that was one of the discussions we had ahead of time. We were, what about bowl games? So we solidified bowl games before we solidified our contract [with ESPN]. ..... So we actually knew that we needed that. This was kind of the one that we knew we had. This was the one shot we had because there was an opening this year. The other ones were just bowl games that we felt, without a lot of bowl games to get into as an independent, because they were already locked up. San Diego and San Francisco are two areas .... that we have a lot of fans, and two areas we will be in a lot [recruiting]. So we felt those were kind of good games for us to get into. Good for our fans, good for our players, good for recruiting, ESPN games." On his statement on Twitter wishing Jake Heaps the best and his feelings on that transfer: "I have a different attitude about kids. We never want a kid to transfer. Never. When a kid transfers, we look at it as, 'we lost him. We didn't do our job.' That's the way I look at it. I am responsible as the athletic director. So, if a kid is not really happy and doesn't feel like he can reach all his goals, and thinks he can do it better somewhere else, then we are not going to stand in the way. In this case, we are friends. That kid had a ton of pressure on him from the very beginning. I kind of admired the way he dealt with it. Things went well in some areas, not so well in some areas, but I really kind of tried to stay close to him throughout the last two years, and encouraged him to keep going and be strong and do well. He just felt that it was time. So I wish him well, I do. I like the kid a lot. I hope he does really well." On releasing kids, and whether he agrees with Bronco that it should be done in most cases: "Philosophically, our stance is the same. Now, there have been kids, not just in football, that have said I need to go somewhere else. What we have tried to do is say, hey, go take a look before. But you can't do that with Jake Heaps. You can't do that with Jake Heaps. But we do that with other Olympic sports teams. ... It is hard to do that with football these days." On how the first year as a football independent went: "I think that, in hindsight, it went well. I don't know that there were any pitfalls. If you look at it as a whole, it is just really different. You gotta get into a bowl game beforehand, that is one thing. We were fortunate to get into the Bell Helicopter game. You don't have a conference championship to play for. These are things that we talked about for a year and a half to two years. OK? We knew all this beforehand. So Bronco and I kind of went back and forth with our administration. ... The scheduling was a deal we had to deal with. We thought we would move our sports into the WAC conference. That blew up. So then we had to change it around and go to plan B. And that looked good. So all things considered, it works. Another thing that is kind of a negative is kids don't have this all-conference thing. I don't put a lot of credence into that as a deciding factor, but the SIDs did a good job of getting with Army, Notre Dame and Navy, and having a player of the week, and MVP. It is four schools, but I believe those kids stood out enough to deserve to say, I have been honored. ... For us, it works right now. With everything going on around us, it is probably a good place to be."On whether BYU sees itself as being like Notre Dame in five years: "I think what we would do, is it gives us the opportunity to be independent, and the sense of the word is that you are really not tied down anywhere. Our other teams outside of football are in the WCC, so the best case scenario, you know is we are in it right now as football proceeds, we will see what happens. I have always said that the best thing that could happen for BYU, the university, the school, all things considered, is the course that we are going to pursue." On whether he was surprised the Big 12 didn't invite BYU:"I don't know if I was surprised. Every school that is kind of ... our name was in the bucket, I guess you would say ... I think if you would look at it, there would be pros and cons. We didn't really talk about those pros and cons. They made a decision with TCU and West Virginia. I think they were smart not to delineate the reasons why other schools weren' their choice." On whether the Big 12 burned their bridges with BYU: "No. They are very good people. We have great respect for them. What happened a couple of months ago, up to a year ago, is business." On whether he can tell BYU fans that if superconferences come about, BYU will be a part of that: "It is speculation. I think that it is something that every athletic director keeps an eye on, if you are in a BCS conference or not, you still want to see what is going on. When ADs get together, what do you think we talk about? Conference realignment. I think everybody watches it, so we have to watch. You wouldn't want to be left out. I think that's pretty obvious."On whether BYU is positioned well enough to be part of a superconference if it comes to that: "I don't really know. We are trying to position ourselves to do what would be best for BYU. And if that happens where there was a split, what would be best for BYU would probably be to go. Today, that's what it would look like would be the best case situation. But the way things have turned and tossed, rules and NCAA compliance issues and all those things considered ... those NCAA compliance rules, that kind of has a dividing factor with the conference alignment. There are a lot of factors that change things."