Editor's note: This is the first of an occasional series exploring the issues related to scheduling football games as an independent.
PROVO — One of the many issues surrounding an independent football program is the scheduling of bowl games.
With no conference bowl tie-ins, BYU must look for viable postseason options. In the Cougars' first two seasons as an independent, they have played in the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas and the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
On Dec. 27, BYU is scheduled to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park in San Francisco against a Pac-12 opponent — if the Cougars are bowl eligible. Beyond that, BYU doesn’t have any bowl deals set.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said he is in talks with various bowls about future deals.
“As an independent, one thing we want to do is get out and give access to our fans and show the country BYU Cougar football,” he explained. “We’ve played four bowl games in four years. I’d like to do that in the future. I could see possibly playing one or two bowl games maybe for two years or three, or we could play six games in six different bowls.”
Holmoe said announcements regarding bowl deals could come soon. With the demise of the BCS in favor of a four-team playoff, conferences are scrambling to lock in bowl ties.
"I would think that the teams and the conferences will align as they have in the past cycle, in the future cycles,” Holmoe said. “There are a few more bowls that we're in discussions with, but any game that we've played in the past would be happy to have us back. There are few other games that we haven't been in, that we're having discussions with. Some of the conferences don't necessarily like locking into the same bowl over six years. I'm leaving ourselves open, but I'm hoping that we can contract with bowls like we did when we went independent.
"We didn't do them all at first, but we could possibly do a couple (of deals) in the next couple of months. I wouldn't see anything more than (contracting for) three years, out of (the next) six," Holmoe continued. "I like the idea of spreading it out. We might be in a bowl game that's an unusual bowl game, but for what we are, and for who we are, in a given year, it might be great. We're a good change of pace for a bowl game. It might not be great for the fans in that particular year. You'd probably like to stay close to home in the West, but maybe one or two of the years, you could expand and go somewhere new. I'm not trying to float out any rumors. But I'm talking with some people, preliminarily, to see what their interest is.”
Could BYU make itself available on a contingency plan with a bowl at the end of a season?
“The bowls would prefer that they lock us in,” Holmoe said. “They could lock us in with a provision, but you wouldn't know that provision. It's not good to do that. We had one in the past, and it's not even worth talking about because it didn't happen, but that's possible that you could go into an agreement if the bowl was willing to do that."
There are reports of a new bowl being created in Los Angeles. Is BYU a candidate for that game?
“It’s not gone far enough down the line where you could consider scheduling it,” Holmoe said. “I’m interested in all possibilities of a bowl game. There are some games that look to be coming on. But there are so many bowl games. Those games have to be approved on an annual basis. I certainly wouldn’t want to schedule a bowl game that doesn’t (happen). That is possible. We want to make sure that there’s a pretty good shot that the game will be played.”
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