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BYU’s Tom Holmoe says he tried to get scheduling arrangement with Big 12 for 2020 season. Here’s why it didn’t happen

Holmoe fields questions from media about the Mountain West games, when fans will return to LaVell Edwards Stadium, status of the Army game

SHARE BYU’s Tom Holmoe says he tried to get scheduling arrangement with Big 12 for 2020 season. Here’s why it didn’t happen

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe walks onto the field after the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — When the Pac-12 and Big Ten announced in July they were playing conference games only due to the spread of COVID-19, just like that, BYU’s games with Utah, Michigan State, Arizona State, Minnesota and Stanford disappeared from the schedule.

There was speculation that the independent Cougars were seeking scheduling deals with conferences that intended to play a full schedule at the time, such as the Big 12 and the Mountain West.

Notre Dame, which is also an independent, was able to jump into the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2020 campaign. 

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said Friday that among the plans he pursued to replace those lost games was approaching other leagues about possibly joining one of them for one season as part of a mutually beneficial scheduling arrangement. 

But those talks didn’t go far. 

“There were discussions that I offered up. We didn’t really get very much of a response on that,” Holmoe said. “Obviously, Cougar Nation sees that Notre Dame has a scheduling arrangement with the ACC. That’s Notre Dame football, an incredible, strong brand that they could go to any conference in the country. BYU, for various reasons, is a different situation. But I asked. I floated it and I gave them the scenarios. They were super respectful. It’s really, really difficult to do that. It’s easy conceptually but there are so many parameters and so many issues that come into play. It wasn’t very realistic but we gave it a shot.”

Scheduling was one of several topics that Holmoe addressed during a 38-minute Zoom meeting with reporters Friday. Here are some of the other highlights from that discussion. 

Mountain West’s relationship with BYU

This week, the Cougars announced they have added 2020 games with a pair of MW opponents — Boise State (Nov. 7 in Boise) and San Diego State (Dec. 12 in Provo). No. 22 BYU (2-0) has eight more games on its revamped 2020 slate.

Both Boise State and San Diego State were on BYU’s original schedule. 

Holmoe expressed his appreciation for the Mountain West Conference for helping get these games back on the schedule. 

“It was very fortuitous that Air Force was playing Army and left an opening. That Boise State game, it seemed like the stars were perfectly aligned. We had very good assistance from the Mountain West Conference,” Holmoe said. “I really feel grateful for the individuals in the Mountain West Conference and the conference as a whole because without them, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Ten years ago, BYU left the Mountain West to go independent. Holmoe said this shows how the relationship between BYU and the MW has improved since then. 

“Nine years ago, this wouldn’t have happened. It was a tough break for everyone involved and there were some hard feelings,” he said. “Through the years, you’ve seen we’ve scheduled more and more games with the Mountain West Conference. We have some good rivalries through the years.”

Holmoe also expressed appreciation for the Pac-12.

“The Pac-12 is a conference that’s helped us a lot as an independent,” he said. “It’s good to have friends out there during these tough times. We need a lot more friends out there.”

When will fans return to games?

Holmoe said he doesn’t know when LaVell Edwards Stadium will be opened up for fans again. No fans were allowed last week against Troy and it will be same same for Friday night’s game against Louisiana Tech

But he’s hopeful that fans can be allowed in the near future. 

“Those discussions are ongoing. A lot of that will have to do with the numbers in Utah County and ongoing communication with the state of Utah, Utah County health and BYU. That’s why I say it’s day-to-day,” Holmoe said. “We have scenarios set up — nobody in the stands, some people in the stands, more people in the stands. Instead of getting emotional about it, we just work hard to be effective communicators, do the best we can, and the state’s doing the same thing … I want this thing full. Are we going to get LaVell Edwards Stadium full this year? I would not anticipate that. But anything above zero is good and anything above 6,000 is good, but we’ll do it on a game-to-game basis.”

Status of the Army game

BYU and Army postponed their scheduled game on Sept. 19 due to coronavirus cases at BYU. Both teams have an open date on Nov. 28. 

“There are potential open dates but with the way things are going, we’ll take it a week at a time,” Holmoe said. “We’ll keep all those doors open. We have good relationships with Army and we’ll continue to talk. We both would like to see it happen. Whether it will or not, we’ll tell in time.”