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Marriott Center upgrades, conference realignment talk highlight Holmoe's roundtable discussion

Published April 13, 2012 5:26 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

As most of you are well aware, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe sat down with a dozen or so reporters from around the state of Utah this afternoon — one representative from each media outlet that covers the Cougars, roughly — and discussed a whole bunch of topics. It was a candid, far-reaching interview, just like others Holmoe has conducted in past years, and the athletic director pretty much went deep on every question. First, though, he announced the renovations to the Marriott Center which we told you about a few days ago after our sitdown with basketball coach Dave Rose. Sounds like most Cougar fans are going to be happy with the changes — unless they happen to be a student who has enjoyed the prime seating at halfcourt. The student section will be moved to the west endlines (behind the west basket) to make way for padded chair seats on the north side. (If you are a student and you want to vent, send me an email at drew@sltrib.com, and I will publish some of the better rants in this space over the weekend. If you are OK with the changes, I would also like to hear from you and get your perspective in as well.) Go here to read more about the renovations; BYU also has more details on its web site. Case you are wondering, seating capacity will go from 22,700 to 20,900, a decrease of 1,800 seats for those non-math majors among us. I've racked my brain the last hour trying to think if there is another school in the West Coast Conference that doesn't have its students at midcourt, or at least between the 20s, so to speak. Can't think of one. Holmoe talked to us for an hour and five minutes, by my count. That's a lot of transcribing, which I am not about to do in one sitting. But I've done a lot, pulling out some of the better comments and more timely material here. You can thank me later.Holmoe on conference realignment and where BYU sits at the presents time in regards to the Big 12/Big East, etc. "It is something, this conference affiliation, conference realignment .... that I think is going to be ongoing. Is it done? Is it sleeping? Is it dormant? I don't know how to describe it. There are obviously still conferences that are jockeying. But for the most part, I think it has kind of died down. I mean, what you read now, and what you see know, is kind of few and far between. It used to be a daily basis. Now it might be weekly or monthly. I certainly need to be able to keep open discussion with key friends of mine, and people in the businesses, in conferences, to find out where they are, what they are doing, to get the feedback from them. So that open communication continues. I can't say that has changed from how it has been for awhile. We were having discussions prior to it really becoming a public fact. And we continue to have discussions, although to say that they are earthshattering would be wrong. We are continuing to try to determine what the best pathways are going to be for BYU in the future." Holmoe on whether his bosses have given him permission to approach conferences and perhaps leave independence: "It is important to me do whatever it takes to get the information that I need to lead BYU athletics forward to where we want to be. You know that there are scenarios that are played out, and you have all talked about them, from the doomsday [scenario] where we are left out to where we are in the best conference in America. And everywhere in between. "We have a contingency plan for every one of those. In order to have those contingency plans, you have to reshape them every time something comes up. So as you see things happening, like in the Mountain West Conference, and Conference USA, since that is public and people are talking about that ... A number of things that they do, effect us, and so as they move it kind of sets off a little reverberation in the sense of, 'what do we do?' How do we react?" Holmoe on whether there are any roadblocks, or things BYU won't give up, to get into a conference: "I think Sunday play is the biggest. That goes to the mission of our university, and the foundation of the sponsoring institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Everybody knows that, everybody is aware of that, and that won't change. I think that all the other topics have been discussed. And I think they are all things that can be worked out." Holmoe on how important maintaining BYUtv broadcast rights in some events is to BYU in regards to joining a conference: "Retaining BYUtv is kind of a question of, to what degree? I believe we will always be associated with BYUtv, just because if you look at our current contract with ESPN. I mean, that is the leader in sports broadcasting, and we work great with them. As you look at the other schools around the country and other conferences, what it used to be, where you would have a broadcast entity and a school, and that was the deal. Now, almost every conference, especially the major conferences, are in these deals, because of distribution. where you need more than one. So we have, quite frankly, an advantage, where we bring with us a built-in source of distribution. As we move forward, I am very positive about this resource that we have. And more people think is attractive, than not. It always baffled me that some people would write that BYUtv is an albatross for athletics. That couldn't be further from the truth. The things that we have been able to do with ESPN have shown that entities work together. Almost every cable company has a network, and they work together. You have ABC and ESPN. You have CBS and CBS Sports. You have NBC and now NBC Sports. Those are only going to grow. Each of those now works with the Big Ten network, The Mountain, The Pac-12 network. Everybody is going to do that. You look at every individual school, and it has ... inside, individual streaming now. You could do whatever you wanted with streaming [video] five years ago. Now, you have to line up your streaming with your TV rights people. I think we have by far the best advantage of any school in the country by having BYUtv. And BYUtv, we are partners with them ... all BYUtv wants to do is make us better." Holmoe on the longterm viability of independence: "What is longterm? I mean, people ask me that question. I have scheduled out for a number of years. I think that is longterm. Two years from now is longterm, for me. I think you can't plan beyond a year. ... We are working on football contracts with Utah. And whoever thought we would be going year-to-year with Utah in football contracts? So I don't know what longterm means. I know that it is viable now. I will say that things won't change much at all through the BCS contract, which is the [through] the 2012 and 2013 season. So we got two more years, two more seasons of football, that are going to be pretty much similar to how they have been now. From this point forward, the April meetings with the BCS, and whatever meetings they plan after that, they will change things. And as they start to agree on procedures and policies, then people start to ... it will start to distill out into what is going to happen. At that point in time, I will let you know. Or I will find out for myself."———————————————- Holmoe on the status of the football series with Utah:"We are continuing to talk. It is not contracted yet. ... As long as we are talking, I am confident. Chris and I are good friends. We have worked on so many issues over the years. If it wasn't going to go, we wouldn't be talking."On whether there is a dropdead date for BYU-Utah football series to continue: "Probably. We have it. But certainly, I have pushed that with him a lot more than he has in the last two years, about scheduling and holding on. But most teams' conferences like their schedules to be done two years in advance. And for the Pac-12 and the Big Ten right now, they are kind of holding, if they had openings. Some of them are done. Some are wondering if they are going to have to drop a game. You have seen that some teams — like Georgia Tech — that because of the ACC issues, and changes in their conference numbers, they came back to me and said, Tom, our schedule in the future is such that we have to change. And we had four games with them. It was the right thing to do for them, because they were in a real serious situation. We are not traditional rivals. We are just friends. So we did [trim the series in half]."On what the Utah-BYU football contract will look like: "I would think that it is going to be shorter terms, just because for both Utah and BYU, we are both kind of trying to look in a telescope, to see what is out there."—————————————Holmoe on his opinion of the BCS changes that could be coming:"I am glad, I think there are proposals, or options, on the table that change the BCS. I think the changes are good. The BCS is always somewhat cloaked in secrecy, which is their modus operandi. But you can see they definitely want to make a change. As you look at it, those changes are pretty drastic from what they have been you can tell that they really don't want to go to a big playoff like March Madness or anything like that. They want to change what is perceived to be not the best for the sport."Holmoe on whether BYU is more or less likely to join a conference depending on what BCS changes come about: "It just depends on what happens, because it depends on where an independent fits into that. Some of their proposals would probably be fine for us, and we could go on as an independent and play as an independent and get into whatever the series is going to be. But depending on what the entry is, into the BCS, could determine whether or not we would need to be affiliated with a conference." Holmoe on whether that scares him at all: "Yeah, sure, it does. Because dealing with the unknown is always hard. The potential thoughts about what could happen are scary. But those are outlying ... I think it is going to fit right in here where we could go one way or the other. I don't think that the outlying things are going to happen right now, based on what you see. But, things change."————————————— Holmoe on charges from former partners in the MWC — including an administrator at San Diego State — that BYU is difficult to deal with and whether he's bothered by that: "No, because in that particular case, I know the person [from SDSU], and we spoke on the phone the next day. I think USC is hard to deal with. I think USC is hard to deal with. I think Notre Dame is hard to deal with. I think Florida is hard to deal with. If you are not hard to deal with, you are not very good. If you are good, you are hard to deal with. And we have dominated in that conference. And everyone knows it. We push hard. We want to be successful. So I don't think we try to be hard. But we are going to try to do everything that we can. And we are good partners. We were good partners in that conference. And that person is a real good friend of mine, still. And we laugh about it now. But they were some of our best partners. I mean, in that conference, [BYU and SDSU] were allies, until we left." Holmoe on whether BYU will play MWC schools in the future: "Those were really dear friends of ours. And some more than others (laughs]. Some of those are really good friends, and discussions are going on right now. We are talking football [scheduling] right now with a couple of those teams. And we are certainly willing to do all the Olympic sports, at any time. There were some hard feelings, and rightfully so. I understand that. But they are professionals, and it is good for them [to play BYU]. I know the fanbases in some of those schools are probably the major reason that it was hard on them. Working with constituencies, you have to do the right thing. But they are real pros and games should be played. From Day I I have been open to play [MWC schools] and still am, and we are working on some, actually."—————————————— Holmoe on his relationship with WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich and what the WCC thinks about BYU potentially leaving the conference a few years after joining: "We had those discussions prior to entering the conference, and you know, the thing that is hard is that there are always discussion. If I were to say my eyes and ears weren't always open. I would be remiss if I weren't doing that. But by the same token, our focus is moving forward. We will just be running in place if we are not concentrating on winning games and winning championships and bringing in great student-athletes through recruiting, and building up stronger coaches. So my effort is moving forward and building all of our teams and our department. It is hard to do that when you are looking around and your head is on a swivel. So it is one part moving forward, but at the same time you keep your radar open. And Jamie knows that. I have frank and open discussions with the membership in the conference, and I think that the media and certain fans make a lot more of it than actually is happening. I mean, we got through a season where we said, we had talked to the Big East. And the Big East [talks] wasn't that big of a deal for the West Coast Conference because it probably would have been football only. So we are moving forward and we gotta be successful in this conference and be an attractive member to conferences. We have to get better in every area, basketball, we can't worry about where we are going to go in basketball if we can't win championships in the WCC and get deeper in the NCAA Tournament. The same goes for every one of our sports."