BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe is on the phone constantly, talking with people at different universities and conferences trying to salvage the 2020 football season. But at this stage the decision is largely out of his hands.
He’ll have to wait for the remaining Power Five conferences — and even the Group of Five — to make some big decisions. Then Holmoe can start looking at where BYU fits in and what kind of season the independent Cougars could have.
On Monday morning, Holmoe appeared on BYU Sports Nation to give his “state of the program” address and tackled on a bunch of questions and concerns.
The biggest news over the weekend was the possibility of scheduling a Week 1 game with Alabama, which also lost its season opener after the Pac-12 announced a conference-only schedule. BYU has lost a total of five games against Pac-12 and Big Ten (which also moved to conference-only) opponents.
“You’ve got to look at it this way, it might take me a year, year and a half to put together a schedule, normally,” Holmoe said. “And when those two conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, announced that they were going conference-only and opened up games, we’re talking about — it’s not just me, but most of those athletic directors and coaches who had their games canceled, had to all of a sudden start sprinting.”
So far, BYU has lost its first four games — Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota — and its season finale against Stanford.
Ideally, Holmoe would like to replace those games with other Power Five opponents, but said that “might not be realistic.”
Outside of college football, the nation is waiting to see what happens with the NFL, NBA and MLB. But inside of college football, three Power Five conferences (ACC, SEC and Big 12) have yet to announce any changes.
It also seems the Group of 5 conferences are waiting to see what the P5 schools do before making their own decision.
And that means Holmoe must wait to lock in games. But that doesn’t mean he can’t work the phones. Holmoe said he’s tried to strengthen his relationships with other programs, hoping to eventually convert those conversations to football games.
“It’s such a moving picture,” Holmoe said. “Every day is a new day and you’ve just got to stay with it. You’ve got to keep your focus and keep your wits and, at the end when they say we’re playing, have a schedule.”
Should all conferences choose to play conference-only schedules, Holmoe said BYU could see itself only playing other independent schools.
What about the possibility of BYU being in a scheduled partnership with a conference?
The ACC has already announced it could bring in Notre Dame for football. The Fighting Irish already compete in the ACC in all sports, except for football, so the relationship with the P5 conference is already there. Notre Dame has yet to accept the offer.
Holmoe said BYU would consider such an opportunity.
“Anything’s possible,” Holmoe said. “This is a pandemic. I’ve never had to deal with this before, nor has anybody in their active positions. So, it’s hard to say that, but when the time comes — at this point in time, I’m not surprised by many things that come out recently.”
Whatever games are played, Holmoe confirmed what many expected. There would be far fewer fans in LaVell Edwards Stadium than on a normal Saturday.
Holmoe referred to the state’s current risk level, which has Utah County at yellow, which requires physical distancing in public settings and that face coverings be worn when that is difficult. It does allow for crowds at sporting events, though not at maximum capacity.
Because of the risk level, Holmoe said they would look at “reduced number of fans.”
When asked about moving the football season to the spring, like the Ivy League has already done, Holmoe said that would be “a last resort.”
There are a few weeks before everything will get sorted out, but Holmoe said he is pushing for BYU to play this fall.