We’re a full week into the new year but the retrospectives from the past decade are still flowing in college football. One of the more monumental shifts that occurred in the 2010’s was undoubtedly conference realignment as numerous schools were thrown into various states of chaos as a game of university musical chairs played out across the country.
While a few schools got a lucky ticket to a Power Five conference, others were left in place in what became the Group of Five. One school, BYU, took a completely different track however and embarked on a grand experiment of football independence. The calendar turning over to 2020 allowed many in Provo to reflect on the past few years of this journey and the Deseret News caught up with Cougars athletic director Tom Holmoe to get his thoughts on going it solo at the FBS level.
While the former BYU football player had plenty of things to say about the program’s TV deal with ESPN offering more opportunities or the amount of success the team has seen over the years, the most interesting part of the Q&A with the local paper was certainly the forward-looking answer he gave about the university’s eventual plans.
“I also knew full well that going independent would not be easy and that success would be measured in varying ways. For example, playing unbalanced schedules, not having a conference championship to compete for and not always living up to our fans’ expectations would be a challenge,” Holmoe said. “There were other issues that we tried to resolve, but the MWC wouldn’t budge. Our only alternative was independence; however, our plans were — and still are — to join a Power Five conference in the future.”
BYU striving to join a Power Five league probably isn’t terribly surprising to hear given the revenue gap in the sports between those in one of the five conferences and those sitting on the outside. Still, it’s notable that he reiterated it with several media rights deals coming up in the not too distant future.
The Cougars were one of several universities vying for a spot in the Big 12 when that conference kicked the tires on expansion but Bob Bowlsby’s league eventually decided to stay put at 10. That won’t stop those in Provo from trying however, as it seems that for as well as Holmoe says things are going as an independent, the Power Five life is still what the program is striving for in the 2020’s.