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BYU announces extension of ESPN contract, will honor LaVell Edwards with patch

PROVO — BYU football players will wear a special patch honoring legendary head coach LaVell Edwards this coming season. It was among several announcements during Tom Holmoe's "State of the Program" address as part BYU football media day.

BYU football players will honor Edwards with a uniform patch.

"We're all going to remember him forever, but the patch with LaVell was an idea with Kalani and me," Holmoe said. "Not everybody knows LaVell like we know LaVell, but we certainly want to pay tribute to LaVell. We want to honor LaVell for the man he was, for the coach he was, for the love he gave us."

The Cougars will wear the patch every game this season. Edwards died last December at the age of 86.

BYU contract with ESPN to continue through 2019

BYU announced that ESPN has exercised its option to keep its deal with BYU through 2019.

"We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with ESPN for decades and that relationship seems to get stronger every year," Holmoe said in a press release. "There is great collaboration, and I feel really good about what we are doing together. We’ve had good dialogue about extending the contract and felt this option would give us some time for additional conversations."

Dave McCann asked Holmoe during the State of the Program what this move says to BYU despite some of the uncertainty surrounding the sports network after a series of high-profile job cuts over the past few months.

"I think to our fans it answers a lot of questions. With all the rumors and innuendos about ESPN and their future, they're strong. They'll figure something out for sure," Holmoe responded. "Every recruit and most of the colleges, they want to be on ESPN. That's where we've always played. It's where we built our name and our brand. ESPN has helped us along the way. They put us on TV every week. It's something really special, and I'm glad we're staying with them."

BYU to be a bowl 'free agent' this season

Holmoe also announced that BYU will be in a bowl game should it become bowl eligible as part of its agreement with ESPN.

"When we became independent, one of the big questions was how are you going to play in a bowl game if you're not affiliated with a conference. They assured us contractually that they would get us a game," Holmoe said.

Holmoe noted that while BYU was tied into specific bowl games for several years since becoming independent, it did not have one for 2017.

"In talking with ESPN, one of the things that we've been thinking about for a couple of years is the P5 conferences right now have affiliations with bowl games. Take the ACC or the Big Ten, and they may have contracts with six, seven or eight games. They can't always fulfill those games. When they can't, they become available," Holmoe said. "That's where talking about ’17, we're almost like a free agent or a little maverick, and they can use us and put us wherever they want. Some of those games could be very good games."

Holmoe was very clear that the Cougars will be in the postseason if they win six game. "If we get bowl eligible, we'll be in a game with ESPN," Holmoe said.

BYU was originally contracted with the Poinsettia Bowl for 2018, but that bowl game is no longer in existence, so BYU will be in a "similar situation," according to Holmoe. However, Holmoe said that next season "might be a little different from this year, because this year is contracted as open all the way." That leaves the door open for the Cougars to pick up some specific bowl tie-ins next season.