Provo • How is quarterback Zach Wilson’s surgically repaired shoulder? Will BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe let coach Kalani Sitake begin his fourth season without a contract extension? And when will BYU and ESPN announce the renewal of their television deal and bowl agreements that expire at the end of the 2019 season?
Those are the primary questions as BYU holds its traditional early summer Football Media Day on Tuesday at the BYU Broadcasting Building.
BYUtv will broadcast some of the events, beginning with the annual “State of the Program” discussion with Holmoe and Sitake at 9 a.m.
Last year, Holmoe talked as if an agreement with ESPN was imminent, but pen hasn’t been put to paper in the 361 days since then.
Last week, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the two separate contracts — one for bowl placement and the other for broadcasting up to five BYU football home games — were close to being signed, citing sources on both sides.
“We are having a good dialogue with ESPN about a new regular-season contract and a bowl game agreement,” Holmoe told The Tribune via email. “Those contract discussions are currently ongoing. We are going to be with ESPN. It is just a matter of working through some details of the new deal.”
College football insider Brett McMurphy of the Stadium Network has warned that some games could go on ESPN+ — the network’s streaming subscription service. That’s probably not news that Cougar fans will want to hear, but is a possibility, according to sources.
News regarding Wilson’s status should be more favorable. Sitake said earlier this month at a charity golf event that Wilson is on track to participate fully in preseason training camp, which begins in late July. Video of Wilson throwing 25-yard passes recently surfaced on social media.
“All our guys are working extremely hard, including the quarterbacks,” Sitake said June 3 at Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy. “I’ve been impressed with all the feedback I’ve received on what the guys have been doing in [player-run practices].”
As for Sitake’s contract status, Holmoe said in January that the media is making too much out of it. Sitake signed a five-year deal when he succeeded Bronco Mendenhall after the 2015 season, The Tribune has reported.
Most schools that are going to extend coaches’ contracts do so prior to the coach’s second-to-last year. But BYU isn’t like other schools, Holmoe has said.
“I think people are creating something [that is not there],” Holmoe said Jan. 30. “They are asking questions, where we just typically, historically [do things differently]. I have been here 14 years. If you go back and look at the way we have done it, it is we have kind of a plan, a process, that we go through. This isn’t his last year, and we have rarely gone into the last year of a contract [without extending]. So he has more than one year left on his contract.”
Holmoe said he and Sitake talk almost every day and “he knows exactly where I stand. … So I think it is a situation that is created outside, and I understand the reasons. But it is not an issue.”
Obviously, questions will be asked Tuesday regarding the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s team. In a spring football prospectus, BYU reported that nine starters return on offense and eight starters return on defense from a unit that ranked No. 18 in the country in total defense last year.
BYU Football Media Day Schedule
Tuesday’s events at BYU Broadcasting Building, Provo
9 a.m. — State of the Program television show, Studio C (BYUtv)
10 a.m. — Coach Kalani Sitake and defensive players interviews
11 a.m. — Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive players interviews
Noon — Lunch
12:45 p.m. — Defensive assistant coaches interviews
1:15 p.m. — Offensive assistant coaches interviews
2 p.m. — 150 Years of College Football: BYU’s impact on the game, Studio C (BYUtv)