BYU football: Athletic director Tom Holmoe calls independence 'exciting'

Published: Thursday, May 12 2011 2:00 p.m. MDT

"We made a move where we decided we were going to move out of a conference and go independent. In doing so, there are certain rules you kind of had to follow," he said. "We didn't feel like we were going to go independent and demand that we have a certain point where we would get (automatic qualifying status). We understand that. We realize it's not going to be different from where we are as an individual team than where we were as a member of a conference.

"But we do believe that we can earn it. And that's what our intentions are. As an independent, we'll be looked at differently if we earn respect across the country."

But Holmoe doesn't want to lobby or politick for automatic inclusion to the BCS. He would like to see the Cougars prove they belong by their play. "You have to earn it," he added.

In its first season as an independent, BYU is playing a 12-game schedule, with some tough road games (opening the season at Ole Miss, followed by a game at Texas) and a home schedule that features a handful of WAC teams. Last Sept. 1, when BYU officially announced its independence, Holmoe warned that it would take a couple of years for the schedule to be ideal. BYU has contracted with WAC teams through 2012.

"We had to do that right away to get those games, but we'll probably play WAC teams and hopefully Mountain West Conference teams because we have pretty good traditions built up with those teams," he said.

Holmoe added that he has only one hole to fill in the 2012 schedule, though he wouldn't discuss specifics about opponents for that season. The known games are against Oregon State, Hawaii, Utah, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Utah State, New Mexico State and San Jose State.

One of the obstacles in scheduling is that most teams belong to conferences, and teams want to play their non-conference games before diving into their conference schedules in October and November.

"What we're hoping is that conferences will be a little bit more lenient, that teams will look at the opportunity to play us and be able to be on TV, because we're going to be on TV," Holmoe said. "If we play a team from the (Atlantic Coast Conference) and that game's at their place, they can put on a BYU-at-North Carolina (game). It's their game. We're hoping that we'll be an attractive game. When the game comes here, they're going to be on TV. I think it gives them more opportunities to be on TV.

"Obviously, the top teams in the country are going to be on TV anyway. If you look at the BCS conferences, the middle-of-the-pack, and lower teams, they're not on TV. They're in their conference TV schedules. We have an opportunity to get them on TV. TV likes non-conference games, even late in the schedule. They love great matchups between conferences."

Announcements about future football series could come in the coming months, Holmoe said.

As for the bowl situation, BYU is contracted to the Armed Forces Bowl in 2011, the Poinsettia Bowl in 2012 and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl — as long as it is bowl eligible and not invited to a BCS bowl.

"These three games we have contracted now are games that we feel are the best possible bowl that we can (get) based on what was available and what was open," Holmoe said. "We could have been a free agent and wait until the end of the season and see who vacates (bowl games), but I didn't feel it was worth it."

Asked about media reports of BYU creating its own bowl game, rumored to be played on Christmas Day, Holmoe responded, "Never heard one thing about it."

Perhaps at no time in BYU history has there been more interest in Cougar football, and in BYU athletics in general. Over the past several months, with the confluence of the announcement about going independent; the widespread attention garnered by basketball star Jimmer Fredette; and the exposure provided by ESPN, the nation's eyes are on the Cougars. People are intrigued to see how independence works out for BYU.

All Holmoe knows is, it's imperative that the Cougars win games.

"You don't want to be irrelevant," he said. "That's the key."

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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