Q&A With BYU’s Tom Holmoe: Football Expectations, Nonconference Scheduling

Jul 17, 2023, 11:37 AM | Updated: 12:46 pm

ARLINGTON, Texas — BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe was a popular man at Big 12 Media Days last week.

The 19th-year AD flew in with coach Kalani Sitake, BYU players, and his athletic department staff to AT&T Stadium on a private jet that was provided by a donor.

KSL Sports spent some time with Holmoe and asked him various questions centered around the BYU football program.

Here are some of the notable comments from that exchange.

Experience at Big 12 Media Days

Tom Holmoe: It’s super exciting to be able to come to Dallas. You step into this Cowboys Stadium, you look around, you the way it’s set up, you see all your peers, you see 700 media members that are credentialed, you start to see the players who are the performers, the coaches, and you begin to realize, ‘Hey, we’re not in Kansas anymore.’ Well, we will be in Kansas soon. But it’s time.

BYU football brand

How do you see the BYU football brand being elevated by being in the Big 12?

Holmoe: I think just by being part of the Big 12, you look up on the board, and there are 14 teams this year, and you’re one of them. So you gain the strength the overall strength of the overall whole. We’re part of the whole. I don’t want BYU to just hang on the coattails of the Big 12.

From the day that we were in, I told [former Big 12 Commissioner] Bob Bowlsby that it was our intention that we’d be great partners for the Big 12. That we would contribute in many ways to the overall success. And that doesn’t mean just on the field, but the energy, the experience of the fans, the game day atmosphere in so many ways. As well as hopefully winning championships and contributing on an NCAA basis and tournaments. So we have a lot of work to do to be a great partner. But that’s what we fully intend to do.

Expectations for the 2023 BYU football season

What do you make of the job that Kalani Sitake has done by retooling the roster in the Transfer Portal and what are your expectations for this year?

Holmoe: I think this is going to be a really good team. And I think Kalani and his staff have done a very good job of retooling of looking at different ways to do things by looking at strategy knowing that you’re going to come into a Big 12, which you’re going to be in a league where you’re going to know styles of teams you play year after year.

As an Independent, we played different teams every year. So it was kind of hard on Kalani sometimes and his staff to have to look at a team for the first time figure out how they play and kind of match them strategically. He’s picked up different players and we’ve made some changes on our staff.

I think internally, philosophy on how they approach [the season] and Kalani is always looking at strengthening the culture. So I love what he brings. I love the relationships that he’s created and I’m really bullish on a good season this year.

Financial commitment among Big 12 programs

Where does BYU rank in financial commitment to the football coaching staff in the Big 12?

Holmoe: I’m certainly not going to answer that question. We are a private school and don’t have to put that out publicly. And we won’t.

But I think that my conversations with Kalani about what we need to be competitive are real. We have conversations and tug on each other and we always work things out. So in the last couple of years, we’ve made some moves that Kalani felt were essential. But Kalani is not going to just do things to hit an average or hit a certain number in the Big 12. We’ll do what we need to do to be successful and Kalani and I have a good agreement on that.

RELATED: Tom Holmoe discussed LaVell Edwards Stadium renovations at Big 12 Media Days

Kalani and LaVell

Do you see LaVell [Edwards]-like qualities in Kalani at times?

Holmoe: Definitely. Kalani and LaVell are two different people. But just knowing the respect that they had for each other and being around Kalani on a day-to-day basis, the number of times that he refers to LaVell and the things that he did or what he would have done in a situation that is current shows me that he learned and is continuing to kind of shape himself and his coaching acumen around what LaVell taught.

I think it’s interesting we sometimes refer to LaVell now years after he coached in things that we are now realizing and learning that we haven’t done in the past. So his legacy continues to shine for everybody in the program.

Holmoe’s view on BYU football nonconference schedules in the Big 12 era

Way down the road, when there are actually open dates in the nonconference schedule, do you envision BYU playing teams from coast-to-coast or will you stay local in the nonconference and then worry about travel in conference play?

Holmoe: I think I’ve said this for years that when you’re in a Power Five conference, you’re playing eight or nine big-time games a year. When we were an Independent, you can’t get that many games a year, you just can’t get them. So you have to kind of coble a schedule together. The strategy on nonconference games now will be predicated on the strength of our team, the depth of our team, where we stand in the conference and who we’re playing the following year, where we’re playing.

The thing that’s hard about that is trying to predict that years out. Kalani and I will probably continue to examine our nonconference scheduling. We have nonconference schedules for a number of years as we tried to get rid of some of the games that we couldn’t play because we only get three a year, we were forced to push some of those independent games that were scheduled into the future for nonconference games. So there will be a time when that runs out and we’ll have to start scheduling more nonconference games but that will be between me and Kalani.

Weeknight games for BYU football

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said he runs any scheduling moves past the ADs, especially weeknight games. Has there been anything that you’ve told Yormark that you would like to see for BYU in league schedules and what is something he has ran by you to sign off on?

Holmoe: Yeah, we’ll play games on weekdays. I think BYU football kind of built our brand [playing weekday games]. We were playing games against Utah State on General Conference weekend forever. That was something where now nobody wanted to play on Thursday or Friday night. So we got a ton of exposure for the last 40 years by playing on Thursday or Friday nights. Then we were able to do that in the Mountain West Conference with their TV deal. We volunteered because we felt it was important to get on.

You look at some of our biggest games have been night games against really good teams, where the whole country gets to see. I don’t know why that would change. Now, we’re not going to play multiple games a year, but I can’t imagine that we would not be playing, you know, one or two games a year on a non-Saturday.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Q&A With BYU’s Tom Holmoe: Football Expectations, Nonconference Scheduling