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Nonconference scheduling, 2022 bowl situation, NIL rules could be topics at BYU’s last football media day as an independent

Cougars will hold the annual June get-together on Wednesday at the BYU Broadcasting Building on campus

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BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake answers interview questions during BYU Football Media Day.

BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake answers interview questions during BYU Football Media Day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

It has become a third-week-in-June ritual, usually held the day before, or the day after, the NBA draft.

But after Wednesday’s proceedings, it will probably never be held again.

Of course, we are talking about BYU’s football media day, a tradition which began in the summer of 2011, a couple of months before the Cougars played their first season of football as an independent.

And we are using the word “probably,” because, as coach Kalani Sitake said earlier this month at a charity golf function, it is not out of the realm of possibility that BYU could continue to have its own football media day, as well as participate in the Big 12 media days in July in 2023 when the program is officially a member of that conference.

For future reference, this year’s Big 12 media days will be held July 13-14 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

BYU’s media day has evolved a bit over the years, but not much.

The day used to be filled with plenty of news and informational nuggets, but in recent years has lacked much in that way. Now, it is known as a good opportunity for media members to get in-depth, one-on-one interviews with dozens of players and coaches on the same day.

Will this year be different? We will see.

For viewers at home (or on their phones), it will begin with the annual “State of the Program” television show on BYUtv at 9 a.m. MDT with BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, Sitake and assistant coaches and players. The school-owned station will replay the 2021 BYU vs. Utah football game, won 26-17 by BYU, at noon.

A one-hour live show entitled “BYU Football: The Independence Era” will begin at 2:30 p.m. MDT, followed by a prerecorded show about the top 100 plays in BYU football history.

With Sitake having signed a new, “unprecedented” contract last December, quarterback Jaren Hall having solidified his spot as the starter and unquestioned leader of the offense, and Big 12 membership looming, there aren’t a lot of hot topics on the table this year.

But here are a few that may spring up:

• How are Holmoe, Sitake and the athletic department as a whole dealing with the challenges presented by the NCAA’s new “name, image and likeness” rules, or NIL, as they are commonly called? Are the Cougars keeping the rules, and keeping up with the Joneses?

• What’s going on with the 2023 schedule? BYU dropped Utah State in February (it wasn’t publicized until May) and then was dropped by Tennessee in mid-May, leaving Holmoe and the Cougars in need of a third nonconference opponent that year to join Southern Utah and Arkansas. Of course, that’s assuming the Big 12 plays nine league games, leaving openings for three nonleague contests.

Holmoe told KSL Sports at the Big 12 meetings in Dallas last month that he wasn’t overly concerned that finding a quality opponent this late in the process would be difficult.

• What is BYU’s bowl situation this season? If the Cougars aren’t invited to a New Year’s Six game they will be under contract with ESPN Events to play in an ESPN-owned bowl game — just like last year when they had to play UAB in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Or, BYU could exercise its option this year to play in the Cheez-It-Bowl in Arizona if that bowl’s conference tie-ins (Big Ten and Big 12) aren’t able to produce a team for the game.

More clarity on what the network has in mind for BYU this year would be nice.

• How can the Cougars stay healthy? A promising season in 2021 was partially derailed by injuries to key players such as Keenan Pili, Payton Wilgar, Chaz Ah You and Micah Harper. Sitake told the Deseret News on June 6 that staying healthy, and recovering from various surgeries, was a priority in the offseason.

• How are the transfers from Power Five programs — Cal’s Chris Brooks, Stanford’s Houston Heimuli and Vanderbilt’s Gabe Jeudy-Lally — acclimating to Provo? Brooks and Jeudy-Lally were recently named to the Phil Steele 2022 Preseason All-Independent Second Team.