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BYU football adjusting to schedules and its new-found freedom

Published: Sunday, June 26 2011 8:27 p.m. MDT

Editor's note: This is the fifth in an occasional series examining the BYU football program's move to independence and jump to the West Coast Conference in most other sports.

PROVO — One of the most challenging aspects of being an independent program in football is scheduling.

It can be a logistical nightmare, particularly setting up games late in the season, when most teams are playing conference schedules.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has been working feverishly since the school declared its independence to set up games, and it hasn't been easy. Instead of scheduling four non-conference games a year, as BYU did as a member of the Mountain West Conference, now the Cougars must schedule 12.

Scheduling is something Holmoe deals with on a daily basis in one form or another.

BYU's 2012 schedule is set except for one game, Holmoe said. That season, BYU is scheduled to play Oregon State, Hawaii, Utah, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Utah State, New Mexico State and San Jose State.

Holmoe wouldn't elaborate about which games have been added, but not yet announced.

Announcements about future games will come "as we complete them," Holmoe said. "You could talk about a series for two years. Then you finally do it. It's the way it is. The first two years (of scheduling) is hard because everybody's got their schedules. We look right now and who are you going to play? There are a couple of teams that are open right now. That's it. Other than that, I'm working with teams to move them off of their schedule. That's a hard thing to do. If you're looking at 2014, 2015 and beyond, and you have a wide-open schedule, you can get better teams."

And with the involvement of television partner ESPN, BYU can play made-for-television games. But things can get complicated. Holmoe does not like to talk about which teams he's talking to for fear of jeopardizing a possible series, waiting instead until the ink is on the contract.

"It's a moving mass of people and possibilities. Sooner or later, you get it," he said. "I've been talking with people for about a year-and-a-half that we're not done with, yet."

In coming years, BYU has games set up with Texas, Notre Dame, Utah, Central Florida, Oregon State, Hawaii, Georgia Tech, Boise State and West Virginia.

Among the opponents rumored to be talking to BYU are Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State, Ohio State, USC, UCLA, Syracuse, Arizona State and Navy. Some games could be played at neutral sites around the country.

The way Holmoe sees it, independence is a chance to develop and cultivate new rivalries as well as build upon long-standing rivalries with MWC and Western Athletic Conference opponents.

"It gives us more opportunities. I think the rivalries from the WAC and Mountain West Conference will be very intense," Holmoe said. "Those guys will get over (BYU leaving the MWC). We need to play those guys. They're good games. It would be good for them to play us in their towns. And we want to play. I think we will. I'm starting some conversations with some people now. You'll see it in other sports before football."

Here are other aspects of independence that BYU administrators and coaches are dealing with:

ESPN AND BYUtv

In addition to its eight-year broadcasting deal with ESPN, BYU has its own network, BYUtv, on which it can air games. Not only that, but BYU will also be able to rebroadcast games hours and days after they end, just like the old days and before the Mountain West Conference's TV network prevented that from happening.

According to the contract with ESPN, a minimum of three BYU football games will be carried on ESPN, ESPN2, or ABC each year. Additional games will be on ESPNU. At least one game each season will be carried live on BYUtv.

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