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BYU athletics: Tom Holmoe addresses the future of Cougars' program

Published: Monday, July 19 2010 4:00 p.m. MDT

PROVO, utah — Is BYU going independent?

What's the state of the BYU-Utah rivalry?

Was BYU ever a candidate for the Pac-10?

After months of rebuffing interview requests on the recent shake-up in the college football landscape, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe addressed those topics and more with a group of reporters Friday.

BYU is exploring every possible avenue to enhance its athletic department's position financially and competitively, Holmoe said. He stressed that BYU didn't begin assessing its situation this summer, when rumors and speculation erupted and moves occurred — like Utah jumping to the Pac-10 Conference.

"BYU's been working on this for three years," Holmoe said. "We're in an unusual position of being in the middle of things, but not on the internal area of things. Instead of being acted upon, we wanted to be proactive. On the other hand, we're not Notre Dame. We can't make demands, and we don't have multiple invitations. So we try to make the best of this jigsaw puzzle and position ourselves for current and the future."

In the short term, the athletic department's priorities are to crack the Bowl Championship Series and increase television exposure.

Holmoe doesn't believe conference expansion is finished and figures it probably won't be settled for a couple of years. In the meantime, BYU will continue to aggressively examine its options.

"Right now, there are certain things that are frustrating to us that we don't have a lot of control over," he said. "But we can control some things. The things we can control, we'll try to take advantage of."

Holmoe confirmed the Pac-10 was never an option for BYU.

The fact Utah is heading to the Pac-10 means the rivalry will change, Holmoe said.

"(Utah) is a great partner of ours. We had an incredible rivalry, and it was fun. It got nasty for the fans a lot. But on the field, if you play, you love it. For a lot of people that really get it, it's an incredibly great rivalry. That's sad that it will change. We're fighting to try to keep it and make it work, but it's hard. The logistics have all of a sudden changed dramatically. So, we're going to fight to see what we can do, but there's no answer to that today."

Holmoe and Utah athletic director Chris Hill have been in discussions about scheduling games beginning in 2011, when Utah joins the Pac-10. Asked if BYU would schedule a 2-for-1 deal with Utah, Holmoe said no.

"What we're going to do is do what's best for BYU," Holmoe said. "When we do that, we win."

There's been speculation that BYU, which is frustrated by the lack of exposure provided by the Mountain West Conference and The mtn. television network, could leave the MWC and be on its own with the help of its own TV network.

"Independence is an option. We will look at everything," Holmoe said. "There are pros and cons to the Pac-10, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Mountain West Conference, independence. What you have to do is weigh those and measure them against what ... what's right for BYU. And what's right for BYU in 2010, but what's right for BYU into the future. That is quite a bit more complex than most people understand."

Given that, Holmoe pointed out the school has options.

BYU owns its own television network, BYUTV, which reaches a potential audience of 150 million around the world. The school boasts a new state-of-the-art broadcasting facility.

"There's nothing better than that west of the Mississippi," Holmoe said of the facility. "The thing we can do with that, nobody in the country has that ability.

"So are we just going to watch replays of the Holiday Bowl from 1980 on BYUTV? No. We want as much as we can possibly get done to benefit the mission of our school. A lot of times, the mission of our school can be aided by athletics."

Asked if there's been interest in BYU from other conferences, like the Big 12, Holmoe said, "The answer was 'no' right now. Is the answer going to change? What do we do in the meantime? Can we show people a side they haven't seen or didn't know of? We're constantly trying to do that, which is exposure. We're working on (scheduling) games and we're doing as much as we can to make that happen."

Meanwhile, Holmoe is optimistic the MWC, which will add Boise State in 2011, has a great shot at receiving an automatic BCS bid in two years.

"If we continue to play at the level we have in our conference, we're going to be automatic qualifiers," Holmoe said. "That would be a huge thing. That would (alleviate) a lot of people's concerns if we were an automatic qualifier."

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com

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