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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Conference realignment era might not be over, Holmoe says

When BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has held his annual or semi-annual roundtable discussions with reporters in past years, conference realignment and BYU’s place in the ever-shifting college sports landscape was a major portion of the Q&A session.

Not so this year.

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Only one question regarding conference realignment was asked of Holmoe, as BYU’s position as a football independent and a member of the West Coast Conference in most other sports seems quite stable right now, and for the foreseeable future.

However, while acknowledging that conference realignment "has quieted down," Holmoe said he doesn’t believe it is over. He believes conferences such as the Big 12 that don’t have football championship games because they don’t have enough members to stage one will eventually be forced to go that route by other conferences.

"I am pretty sure that in the next years, whatever it is, just because of the way some of the conferences stand right now, and knowing that you are going into this college football playoff, they are going to have some equality in the way things go. I mean, everybody is going to have to have a championship game. And people are going to have to feel like they have an equal chance to get in and be ranked, and schedule. So I think in the next little while things will change. It will be interesting to see how it goes," Holmoe said. "But I am not going to speculate on some of the governance and whether or not there are going to be five big [conferences] that pull away in football or other sports. Those things will dictate how quickly or how long it takes for conference realignment to maybe kick in.

And it would seem to me that if it went that way, that that would probably be the final time."

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East Carolina announced on its website today that it will play football at BYU in 2015. That’s a surprise, because when they agreed to a two-game series back in January of 2012, the schools said they would play in 2017 (at ECU) and in 2018 (in Provo).

No date for the 2015 game in Provo was listed in the release, but it will presumably be in October, which is when the Cougars have openings.

Here’s how the 2015 BYU football schedule looks now. (I put ECU in at Sept. 19, which is just a guess at this point).

BYU’s 2015 Football Schedule

Sept. 5 — at Nebraska

Sept. 12 — Boise State

Sept. 19 — East Carolina (see above)

Sept. 26 — at Michigan

Oct. 2 — ???

Oct. 10 — ???

Oct. 17 — at Southern Mississippi

Oct. 24 — Cincinnati

Oct. 31 — Connecticut

Nov. 6 — at San Jose State

Nov. 14 — at UNLV

Nov. 21 — Fresno State

Nov. 28 — at Utah State

Bowl Game: Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego, Calif.

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That last line is correct: As of today, BYU has a bowl agreement for 2015 (Poinsettia Bowl) but not for 2014.

Holmoe said Tuesday that an announcement will come shortly regarding where the Cougars will play postseason in 2014.

"For next year, is the one that is most important to me right now," he said. "And I feel really good about where we are. But that’s just not contracted, so I can’t comment on it. But I think it will be good for our program, and I am excited about the potential matchups. I think when it is done, it will kind of hit some of the pillars that we are looking for in our program."

Regarding more long-term bowl agreements, he said. "I feel really solid on all but one. There is one that goes out a number of years that we haven’t even discussed. It is just kind of floating there. We have an agreement with ESPN that they are going to get us a game. So I am not worried about that. They have a lot of games. And it is far enough out in our contract with them, that it will be fine."

Speaking of ESPN, here’s what Holmoe said when he was asked about BYU’s relationship with the cable sports giant and whether the agreement that is reaching its halfway mark will be renewed:

"Our general relationship with ESPN is great," he said. "When we first signed the agreement and started having these discussions, I couldn’t have imagined that it would be where it is today. They are so willing to work [with us], the relationship with ESPN is so strong, that we have gone to them and asked them for some assistance, and they’ve given it willingly.

And they have come to us, and asked for us to be able to help them out in some situations. And of course, we want to respond favorably.

They have been able to help us in basketball. I think that Maui Classic [invitation] is a game that [showed] we have a strong relationship with ESPN not just in football, but we have a strong relationship with ESPN.

Moving forward, they are happy with how things are. We give them an opportunity. We are like wild-card team that they can use in certain situations. We can fill certain voids that they have. We are willing to play non-Saturday games. It is difficult in some situations with some of our fans, but it is an incredible opportunity to get exposure, and they are willing to give it to us.

We are going to have some great opportunities this year to be widely seen. And if we can play well, it will be a super arrangement.

Going forward, we would definitely want to [keep the relationship] with them, and all indications from them are yes.

It is about the time where I would say maybe in the next year or two, the discussion will come up."

Finally, here’s what Holmoe said when he was asked what the 2013 schedule taught him about the program:

"I think it shows us that we need to get stronger to be able to play that kind of a schedule. And the schedules of the future look like that, if not stronger. And that is the philosophy that Bronco [Mendenhall] and I have going forward, is that you want to be able to schedule strong teams to be able to make a name for yourself in the country, winning those games, that if you win those games, then you end up as a top-20 team. And if you really can play extremely well through the course of the season and knock off teams that are probably favored over you, then you have a chance to be a top-15 or top-10 team. And that’s where we desire to be."



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