Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
CORVALLIS, Ore. — BYU officials finally broke their silence on college expansion issues involving the Big 12 Saturday when athletic director Tom Holmoe called a quick press conference right before kickoff.
Holmoe said BYU has every intention to play with the big boys of college football and would do everything possible to keep a high level of competition.
Just minutes after he addressed the issue on BYUtv, Holmoe told members of the Utah media BYU had not been offered membership in the Big 12 and, thus, did not turn down an offer but did aspire to play at "the highest levels" of college football.
"We've been monitoring the landscape of college football and several conferences for some time now and as of late, with TCU joining the Big 12 as the 10th member of the conference, we though it was a good time to talk," said Holmoe.
He then did not reveal any new information about BYU's status with the Big 12 or any other athletic league. On Friday, major changes were made in college football with the MWC joining Conference-USA for a 22-team football-only league and the Big East inviting Air Force, Boise State, Houston and Central Florida to join the automatic-qualifying BCS conference.
The only thing Holmoe said that indicated BYU was not out of conference expansion talk is that he appreciated work has been able to go on behind the scenes in confidence.
What exact negotiations have led to, Holmoe would not elaborate upon.
Would BYU be invited to join the Big 12 if Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC? Would the Big 12 expand to more than 10 teams? Holmoe refused to answer, calling such talk speculation.
"We appreciate that we've been able to do this privately and confidentially and in a manner that was not played outside the confidences of our discussions. It's time to say a couple of things," said Holmoe.
"First, were we invited to the Big 12? No, we have not been invited. A good follow-up is because some have stated we have rejected an offer from the Big 12, obviously you cannot reject that offer — that goes without saying."
Holmoe said the "process," which he would not elaborate on, is "ongoing" and he refused to say how close Big 12 membership was for BYU. Asked if BYU has come close to being invited, he said it is hard to say. "It is an internal matter. It came close for TCU and you saw how quick that happened and how quick things changed on the landscape of college football."
Holmoe said BYU would do its very best to keep "being involved in the process" as things change, as they did with TCU and the Big 12 and what happened Friday.
Holmoe was asked if BYU officials felt a sense of urgency right now to be a part of the changes happening in college football.
"It is important to know we plan on doing the very best we can for BYU," he said. "We are very competitive. BYU has played football for a long time and been competitive and done very well. We have no intentions of not being with the big boys. We want to be able to play at the highest level and have done so for a long time. If you know coach (Bronco) Mendenhall and if you know me, you know we are going to put our boys in the best position to be as successful as they can."
Holmoe refused to speculate on what would happen in any more conference expansion, or confirm if BYU felt if it didn't join something soon, it would be left out of so called super conferences.
"A lot of people claim they know what is going on and the fact is, they don't," he said. "I think a lot of people have a lot of opinions but nobody knows what is going on (super conferences), not even conference commissioners know."
Holmoe said the Big 12 and what it does internally is staying internal and until somebody from the Big 12 says something publicly, rumors are only speculation.
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