Teeples: 3 years into BYU football's independence, scheduling is still a rough road

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28 2013 4:05 p.m. MDT

Tom Holmoe speaks at a press conference on April 6, 2011. Holmoe, as BYU's athletic director, is primarily responsible for the construction of BYU football's independent schedule.

Kylea Knecht, BYU

Enlarge photo»

As of this week, it’s been three years since Tom Holmoe and Brigham Young University announced a move to leave behind the mess that was Mountain West Conference and become independent of an athletic conference in football.

At the time, Holmoe made it clear that football scheduling would be a big issue — especially in the short term. At that time, he mentioned "a transition period of a couple of years before we achieve the full vision of what football independence can become."

The 2013 schedule is chock full of notable opponents, even at home, even in November. On Monday, BYU and California announced a football scheduling agreement for next year in Berkeley and a return game in Provo in 2017.

But don’t assume that scheduling challenges are in the rear-view mirror. Holmoe and his staff still have a ton of work ahead of them, particularly on the home schedule and late-season games.

The relenting Pac-12

There’s no doubt BYU and Pac-12 go together like chili and cornbread. Sure, they’re different food groups and aren’t dependent on one another, but in the end, they make so much sense together.

When a Pac-12 school hosts BYU for a football game, it’s almost guaranteed to mean a boost in ticket sales. With alumni and LDS Church members blanketing the conference’s footprint, it’s no wonder Provo’s Cougars are found on the future slates of USC, Washington State, Stanford, Arizona, Utah and now Cal.

But when the aforementioned Utes made the step up to the Pac-12, fans of the annual rivalry game versus BYU were quickly dismayed to learn that the battle would no longer be played in November due to Pac-12 scheduling rules.

Recently, however, Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill announced — curiously through an awkward YouTube video — that at least the 2018 installment of the series would be played the last day of the season.

And next year’s BYU-Cal matchup will likewise be at season’s end. So did the Pac-12 change its scheduling policy?

No. USC and Stanford have essentially a perpetual scheduling agreement with Notre Dame, and those games take place in October and November. So when either the Trojans or Trees are playing the Irish, it leaves a team without a game. And most teams don’t want a bye that late.

So the conference has opened the door for those Pac-12 teams with a hole in the schedule to fill it. But that puts them in the same predicament as BYU: begging for a good game in November or December.

Combine the fact that BYU brings a crowd and ESPN late in the season, and you see the potential for lots of chili and cornbread on the menu.

So the Pac-12 helps, but it’s not a cure-all to BYU’s scheduling challenges.

There’s no place like home … if you can get a game there

A look at the present upcoming home lineup will have any BYU fan giddy. Few programs can boast the diversity plus quality of opponents the Cougars face, let alone the great matchups.

But not all seasons will be like unto 2013 when it comes to home schedule. Aside from fan uprisings on social media, this is likely what keeps Holmoe up at night.

Sure, 2014 isn’t bad, necessarily. But Virginia, Houston, USU, Nevada, Southern Miss and UNLV look a lot more like a MWC or CUSA home lineup than fans will like.

And 2015 is yet to contain a “big-five” conference game at home, while 2016 is currently without a home game altogether.

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