PROVO — Tom Holmoe’s introduction to the state of Utah was not a particularly pleasant one.
A native of California, Holmoe came to the Beehive State for the first time as a 10-year-old to visit relatives and he did not enjoy the weather.
"It was the hottest place I'd ever been," Holmoe recalled. "I didn't really like it."
That was Holmoe's impression of Utah until BYU started recruiting him.
Holmoe ended up playing defensive back for the Cougars. After BYU, Holmoe became a fourth-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers. He earned three Super Bowl rings — three as a player and another as a coach.
Now, the BYU athletic director will be inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, along with Spence Eccles, on Oct. 16 at the Grand America Hotel.
The Utah Sports Hall of Fame, which has 226 inductees, is celebrating its 50th year.
“I was a California boy. I grew up by the ocean and I was never going to leave California. Coming to BYU and the state of Utah changed my life,” Holmoe said in a news conference in the lobby of the BYU football offices Thursday. “I’m honored by this award. It’s a pretty humbling experience to get a call and say you’re going to the Hall of Fame. I’ve been to the induction ceremony for years and I’ve been impressed with the people that go in.”
Holmoe paid tribute to one of those inductees, legendary coach LaVell Edwards, who recruited Holmoe to BYU. Edwards passed away last December.
Holmoe also acknowledged other coaches and former teammates who are members of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, including former Utah coach Ron McBride, who attended Thursday’s event.
“I think there was Providence involved that I ended up, this California kid, in the state of Utah,” Holmoe said. “Now, coming into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, this has particular meaning for me because of the people. It’s an incredible state. One of my favorite feelings is flying into Salt Lake. Utah is home.”
Former BYU star and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Chad Lewis, who is also a member of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, introduced Holmoe and read a message from Holmoe’s former 49er teammate, NFL Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott.
“Tom is the best teammate who did everything to help his team win. Tom sacrificed his body many times on the field,” Lott said. “He even wore a neck roll because of the way he hit … Congrats to Tom. I would not be in the Hall of Fame if I didn’t have Tom as a teammate. He truly made a difference in my life and he still does.”
After coaching in the NFL and in the college ranks, Holmoe returned to BYU in 2002 and he became the school’s athletic director in 2005.
“We’ve got something really special in this state. We have to fight to stay together and keep it,” Holmoe said. “We have a great rivalry with the Utes and the Cougs and the Aggies. That’s been a fun and exciting part of my career in Utah, to have these incredible rivalries, where we duke it out on the field and then come back as friends.”