BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe talks football scheduling and future vs. Utah
After announcing BYU's 2012 football schedule on BYUtv Monday night, Cougars athletic director Tom Holmoe spent some time with reporters on a conference call and answered questions about not only the 2012 docket, but other scheduling-related matters. One of the most pressing questions regarding BYU's future football schedules has to do with the University of Utah, and whether the Utes and Cougars will play beyond 2012. As of right now, nothing is contracted beyond the Sept. 15 meeting at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Here's Holmoe's response to my question about the series continuing after this year:
"[Utah athletic director] Chris Hill and I have talked about the possibility of dates. We have dates that we have kind of penciled in. As we look forward, we don't really think that it is wise for either of our schools to contractually go out X number of years, because of the fact that they just transitioned into a new conference and we are in a situation where we are independent right now. Because if things were to change, it might not be a situation where either one of the schools, it might not be in their best interest. That being said, I love the series, and I would do anything I could to try to keep it, no matter where we were. But the fact of the matter is we are an independent school. I want them on our schedule every year. But to make sure that we can get the game at the right time, and it works for both schools, this is what Chris and I have agreed upon, just to take it slow, not go way out into the future. Like, we've got games against Hawaii and Boise State, those games are long, long term. And Notre Dame for that matter, six games in 10 years. Anyway, those are games that we feel, regardless of where we are, we will do. And the Utah series is a series that we have to be a little bit more careful about. I am willing to work and do anything I can do to make sure that that series continues and we go on long term. Or I should say, way into the future. Not that we contract them, but kind of look at it home-and-home at a time, two years at a time." I asked Holmoe if there would ever come a time when one school would ask the other to play a few games in a row at its stadium as a last-gasp effort to keep the rivalry going. "No," he said. "I think what we have in mind is to go home and home. I mean, this is a longstanding, great game. And I think that is something that is home-and-home, back-and-forth, just like it has always been. Now, I realize it is not the last game of the season, like it has been forever. If it is going to be played, it is not going to be the last game of the season. We have adapted to that transition. Some people think that it is weird to play them early in the season, but I want to play, and that is what my focus will be on."More from Holmoe's teleconference:On playing Utah State in the future:"[Utah State athletic director] Scott Barnes and I have ... penciled in games for the future. That is a series we would like to continue for a long time."On whether ongoing discussions with the Big 12 and other conference realignment discussions are hampering the scheduling effort: "We have to continue to schedule. I can't not schedule games in anticipation that we might be in another conference. So we have worked out contracts with a lot of these schools. They hear the rumors and such, like everybody else. And we go through and work with these teams, and we work out individual contracts with these teams. Some of them vary. But we have to go forward as if we are going to remain independent. That's our thought process. In order to play a really good schedule, we just got to move forward. If sometime in the future we were to join another conference, then we would have to make some manuevering to get out, just like the University of Utah did when they went to the Pac-12, or any of these other schools that joined conferences. There are disruptions that you have to take and do whatever is necessary to make those changes and make things right with the teams which you are contracted with." On the games he was able to schedule in 2012, and which ones were the most difficult to schedule, and which one is he most satisfied with: "I can't really tell you [the hardest to schedule], because it would open up a lot of questions. But it would be a surprise to you, because a couple of those games we had to maneuver, and they didn't want us to move it, and then we got a chance to move it. The Notre Dame one is probably the most satisfying, because whenever you can play a team with great tradition, and our people love to go back there, and we get two two-for-ones. That was that Notre Dame worked so easily with us. That's the most satisfying because I think it will be the biggest [game] to our fans. But I think there were some other games [that are satisfying]. The Washington State game was kind of a late addition. We were able to move around a couple of games and get that. And that took some effort. Even in 2012, when we had some opening, there were not a lot of teams [available]. People kept emailing me, telling me, these were fans, that they were looking on websites and this team has an opening on this week. I am going to tell you right now that nine out of 10, or 99 percent of those openings are not open. Even if they are open, it doesn't necessarily mean that they want to play BYU. And so there is very, very little room for maneuvering. We had a couple things that really fell into place. I think it is about the best we could do this year with our schedule for 2012, and end up where we are. I knew exactly where we were going, and I knew what we could do, and I knew what we couldn't do. And as I say as 2013 unfolds, it will continue to get better."On whether there is concern that fans will lose interest in November with another weak November schedule:"You know, possibly. I heard the complaints last year. It was just one of the things that we had to do when we went independent. There was no other way around it. And so if you look at this, one of the things that was a little bit different, is that our last home game in Nov. 10, where last year we had a couple home games in November. So I think there's a difference between road games and home games. I feel like when we go to San Jose, it will be exciting for those fans in the Bay Area where we have lots of them, that will be able to go see us play. So I think that's a little bit different this coming year for that game. But we needed to get games. That will be a little bit different. But we will be playing a home game in November against a WAC team that some of our fans didn't like [last year]." On how far they are scheduling out right now, and whether he still works on the schedule on a daily basis: "I don't think it is quite as difficult [now] as it was. Certainly, 2011 and 2012 we knew were going to be the very tough ones. I still need a couple of games for 2013, and am trying to figure out where we can get those last two games and make sure we don't overload. I think it will be a little bit [of time] before obviously 2013 comes out. I would rather wait on 2013. I mean, if were to finish it off, I could. But why finish it off just to get it done? I want to make sure it is the perfect schedule for us, and sometimes time helps. Some of our fans understand that we wait to try to make sure that we get that possible deal. It is kind of like the NFL Draft everybody knows who they are going to draft, but when they get that 15 minutes they take 14 minutes and 45 seconds just to see if someone will make a deal with them. And in the last two weeks, I actually had two teams call me and ask if we would play in 2012. That blew my mind, because they weren't available all the way up until last week. Pretty bizarre. I can't say who they are because they don't want it out there, but that is how it could be. Now, you think, are you kidding me? There are actually teams that might change their schedule for next year? I am talking about I-A teams, and the answer is yes. So as far as 2013 goes, I got a little bit of run-up time. Someone asked the question, how far out do we go? I am going out, I think we have some games scheduled for 2017 and 2018. Obviously, the Hawaii and Boise State series go out a long ways. We have some things that we won't get to until 2017 or 18 that we are talking about right now, that is when it will start the series. I think that if that is what we need to do to get a series with those teams, that is what we will do. But I am not working every day to try to fill in a series in 17 or 18. You gotta understand, there are four independent teams right now that do this. Every other team in a conference is scheduling four games. And the majority of those teams are probably scheduled out all the way through 2015 or 2016. They don't even have any [openings] on their schedule to schedule. For us, because we ... have more flexibility than anybody in the country. And that's why teams will come to us late and say, 'do you have an open spot. We are in a bit of a bind?' I like that part of the scheduling, and it is not quite as hectic [scheduling] as it was for 2011 and 2012, with us working on 2013 and beyond." On how many games in 2012 will be on ESPN: "Don't really [know]. I think that as I talk to teams from other conferences, that is something that TV does. TV makes their choices. Conferences don't have a lot to say about who picks up the games, and when. Every conference has sold their rights to those home games to their television partners. And those are the ones, when they make their choices, then that is when you know where you are going to be [on TV]. I think as always, the better you play, and the higher you are ranked, and the more enticing the games are, the better chance you are of playing great TV games. I think people will look at a lot of our games and say, 'yup, we want that one.' And depending on how we play the rest of the season it will depend on what games we get [on TV] later in the season." On whether any games will be moved to Friday or Thursday: "They could be moved. I think the ones that we did in the past, last year, we scheduled those games to be on Friday, or Thursday. And sometimes early in the season, when you contract the games with other teams, sometimes in the next couple months, hopefully soon, there could be a game that is going to be at the same location, maybe that same week, that could move to a Friday or a Thursday. Now it just depends on how, with us, with home games, it depends on ESPN's schedule. If they feel like they have a great opportunity and want to move us to a Thursday, we would probably do that. But right now, I would say that the ones that we intend to be on, we got one on Friday. And the chances of one, I mean, maybe one [more] would be moved from a Saturday to a Friday or a Thursday, but I don't think we will have much movement now for the  schedule." On Bronco Mendenhall saying the 2013 schedule will be the most difficult yet and whether the games will be against programs BYU has never played before: "It will be the toughest schedule [ever], I am sure. ... Yeah, I think so [regarding new opponents]. I am not looking at the schedule for 2013, but am trying to think of all the teams. There are some that, I don't know if we haven't ever played, but we haven't played in a while, if we haven't played them. You know, 2013, when we contract a game, we will generally announce it and release it. So it is just probably a couple of games that we haven't announced, but we still have two to go. And those two we are in discussions with, and they could very well end on those. I don't like to play games and be talking with four people and drop two of them. I like to talk to the teams that are giving us respect and having serious talks, and if they break down, I will go to another. I get frustrated when I work with people and put in a year and a half or two years, and it turns out that they are just waiting for the best buyer, or the best game. I don't like that. I don't do that. I think some of them have already been contracted and you know that. And the ones that haven't, those are games that we will announce when we do contract them. We are not going to wait for the whole schedule to come out. That way I think into the future you will kind of know when we have an opening we need one or two more games, and you will know that those will be the ones that we will only announce. Like this schedule right now , I mean, it wasn't a big surprise. It was kind of a matter of solidifying dates."