Joseph Tolman

Today’s column: BYU’s weird football schedule, which takes BYU on a field trip around the U.S. With BYU's season only a week away, you’d better know your geography, BYU fan. Any questions?

The schedule seems pretty random. How did the Cougars come up with this thing?

Tom Holmoe threw darts at a map while wearing a blindfold in a dark room. The darts landed on teams in 10 states and seven conferences.

Think of it as a football sampler. The Cougars cross the Mississippi four times — including three trips to the East Coast — and make one visit to the West Coast. Using the accompanying John Madden telestrator, you can trace the Cougars’ journey as they live the nomadic life of a football independent — East Hartford, Connecticut (UConn), then to Austin, Texas, Orlando, Florida (Central Florida), Boise (Boise State), Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Middle Tennessee), Berkeley, California (Cal) and then back to Miami (Miami Beach Bowl). Then there are the home-game opponents: Utah State, Houston, Virginia, Nevada, Nevada-Las Vegas and Savannah State.

What have these schools got in common?

They are all located in the United States and they play football. That’s about it. Oh, and three of the Cougars’ opponents are from the American Athletic Conference; they will play another AAC team in the Miami Beach Bowl. Four AAC opponents in one season should qualify the Cougars for honorary membership in the league.

How many miles will the Cougars travel?

Glad you asked since I went to the trouble of figuring it out. About 22,000, counting the Miami Beach Bowl — almost enough to take them around the world. According to BYU’s sports information office, only Hawaii and Idaho will travel more miles this season. If the pointy-headed boys at the NCAA don’t have a rule against players collecting frequent flier miles, they might come up with something after this.

If you want to be True Blue and attend every game, what will it entail?

A lot of money. Crack open the wallet, pal. You’re going to need green to be blue. According to the United Airlines website, airline travel to BYU’s road games will cost about $7,300 for two people traveling coach, although you could knock off almost a grand if you decide to drive the five hours to Boise instead of fly. Then you’ve got the price of tickets — home and away — plus hotel rooms and meals. Let’s call it about $9,000 for two people. If you bring the kids, well, do the math. If you have to do the Disney World thing in Orlando with fam, take out a second mortgage. Remember the good old days when road trips for a BYU fan meant driving to Laramie and Fort Collins?

How are BYU’s “student-athletes” going to make up for all that missed class time?

They are going to do homework on the sideline during the Savannah State game.

What is Savannah State?

Savannah State is an FCS team located in Savannah, Georgia. The Tigers play in the North Division of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with Coppin State, Delaware State, Hampton, Howard, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State and Norfolk State and other teams you’ve never heard of. Their home stadium seats 8,000 — about 57,000 fewer than BYU’s. They can claim former NFL star Shannon Sharpe as an alum.

How many of BYU’s opponents are from the so-called Power 5 conferences?

Three — Texas (Big 12), Virginia (ACC), Cal (Pac-12). Two of them are among their league’s weakest teams. Cal and Virginia managed just three wins between them last season. Bottom line: This is the weakest schedule BYU has managed since becoming an independent four years ago. The combined records of BYU’s opponents was 71-81 last season.

There’s a pretty good chance the Cougars will be ignored even if they do pile up double-digit wins, but nobody ever accused college football of being fair, or of even trying to be fair.

BYU is playing Connecticut — is this a basketball game?

UConn does have a football team. The Huskies are one of two teams on the schedule that the Cougars have never played (Savannah State being the other).

What is missing from this schedule?

It’s red and white and lives up the road. For the first time since 1945 — when the Cougars didn’t field a team because of World War II — BYU is not playing Utah. Who’s fault is this? Well, let’s take the high road and not point fingers (it’s Utah’s).

Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: [email protected]