"But we don't think like that. We don't plan on losing a game," said sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps. "It might happen, but we'll take that in stride as it comes along. We're confident in ourselves and we believe in ourselves that we can have a successful season. Our goal is to play for a national championship. We dare someone to say we can't, because we're going to prove people wrong. In no way are we saying we're going to win a national championship this year, we understand how difficult that is and what it's going to take. You have to have a near-perfect season. But everyone in our locker room and our coaching staff believes we can do it. We're excited for the road that's ahead of us."
BYU's decision to strike out on its own is fraught with risks, but Mendenhall and Holmoe prefer focusing on the rewards, including widespread exposure thanks to an eight-year broadcasting agreement with ESPN.
"We have a worldwide following," Mendenhall said, "and we've partnered with The Worldwide Leader … It's pretty clear that our program is strong. There has to be a reason (ESPN) wants to partner with BYU. It's a unique institution."
What's more, the partnership with ESPN provides BYU with freedom in scheduling.
"We'll play anybody, anywhere, anytime," Holmoe said, acknowledging that scheduling has been difficult challenge.
"(High profile opponents) are taking our calls," he said. "We are somewhat of salesmen. We have to knock on a lot of doors before someone opens up and lets us in. But we work closely with ESPN, and it is exciting to know that we'll have teams come to BYU that have never been here before."
No announcements were made Tuesday about future games, but Mendenhall said that ESPN has been instrumental in setting up intriguing matchups.
"The power of ESPN has absolutely amazed me to this point, of what teams will do to get on ESPN," Mendenhall said. "Balance is what I'm seeking in our schedule. It's difficult, but my biggest challenge now is saying no to all of the great opportunities."
Dave Brown, ESPN's vice president of programming and acquisition, who attended Tuesday's media event, said BYU's first five games this season will be broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2, while all but the Idaho State game on Oct. 22 (which will be televised by BYUtv), will be on the ESPN networks.
Eight BYU games, Brown added, are already scheduled to be televised next season.
Brown said he's not concerned with helping schedule games BYU wants to play..
In addition to playing Ole Miss, Texas, Utah, Central Florida, Oregon State, TCU and Hawaii this season, the Cougars will play a six-year series with Notre Dame starting next year.
"We're going to be able to find a lot of great teams to play," Mendenhall said, adding that he'd love to play opponents like Boston College, Army and Navy.
"We want national recognition, but we also want regional games," Mendenhall said. "We also know there has to be balance in our schedule."
In order to play "great teams," Holmoe said BYU may have to play some two-for-one games.
Brown said losing BYU when the contract with the Mountain West Conference expired years ago created a void in ESPN's programming.
"Our schedule was lacking because we didn't have BYU on," he explained. "Now they'll be a big, big part of our lineup … What's good for BYU is good for us."
In terms of national exposure compared to other big-time programs, Brown said, "this will put BYU at the top of the heap."
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