BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe focused on the independent football schedule and the team’s future in his semiannual Q&A session with the press Feb. 24.
Holmoe emphasized the challenges presented in scheduling the football season. He said the season is front-loaded, which makes it difficult to schedule games with specific teams, like the University of Utah.
Holmoe and University of Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill have been in talks about continuing the rivals’ series after the current two-year hiatus, but the Utes have more availability in the beginning of the season when the Cougars don’t have time to spare.
“I just want to make sure that we have the series. It’s a tradition we want to keep going,” Holmoe said. “It’s not as easy as some people would think, that we can just come up with a date. But it does come down to not being in the same conference.”
Holmoe also commented on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s recent change that distinguishes BYU as a non-league Power 5 opponent but remarked that the positive distinction doesn’t change much for the Cougars. BYU already competes against ACC teams and will continue to do so.
“It didn’t mean anything to me, because we already have games scheduled,” Holmoe said. “I don’t think it helped us a great deal. … We’re playing them, and we’re going to keep playing them.”
Holmoe said winning football games is difficult in any conference, and independence hasn’t changed that. BYU also suffers from a monetary disparity with other schools and teams that receive much more private funding and donations, but the coaches and administration work to recruit the best players possible and put a great team on the field.
Recently, smaller crowds have been attending BYU football games, and some football alumni have expressed disappointment with head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s coaching tenure. Holmoe admitted that the team has had to adapt, and there are mixed reactions from fans about independence, but the program isn’t looking back. They’re focusing on the team but not ruling out the possibility of playing in a Power 5 conference in the near future.
Holmoe also expressed that the individuals upset with Mendenhall’s coaching only represent a small minority of the football alumni. He stressed that every opinion counts. However, he hears from alumni constantly, and the majority opinion is less extreme. The vast majority are content with the program. Holmoe commented specifically about Mendenhall saying that since the program declared independence, he’s had a difficult job, but he’s stood up well. Mendenhall has made mistakes in the past, but Holmoe maintains a positive outlook for moving forward.
Holmoe briefly discussed news in other BYU sports and said the privately funded Annex and renovations to the Marriott Center are important to the future success of the basketball program. He added that basketball head coach Dave Rose is thrilled, and it’s partially due to Rose’s consistent success that the recent announcements of the renovations and Rose’s new five-year contract received such support.
Holmoe finished by saying he knows football and basketball are the most popular and most fiscally relevant sports, but the Olympic sports are just as important. He said the swim and dive team’s recent MPSF conference championship is as important as Tyler Haws breaking the scoring record.
(Click here to view excerpts of each question and response from the Q&A press conference.)