BYU officially announced its football independence today, and in the process revealed that the Cougars have entered into an eight-year agreement with ESPN to broadcast every home football game starting next season.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe also announced a six-year agreement to play Notre Dame in football.
In addition, BYU will retain the rights to rebroadcast those games on a “same-day” basis on BYUtv.
Holmoe said that the two pillars of the the decision to go independent were access and exposure for the program.
BYU also officially announced that its other athletic programs will compete in the West Coast Conference beginning in 2011.
One of the biggest questions regarding BYU’s move to independence in football is the issue of scheduling.
That is an issue that can be dealt with Holmoe intimated, especially with the help of ESPN/ABC. He also indicated that he has fielded several phone calls during the past few days from programs from around the country who are interested in scheduling the Cougars.
“Together in partnership, ESPN and BYU Athletics, our vision is to play football games across the country, against many of the storied football programs in their legendary stadiums, and to have those same highly regarded programs return to Provo to play in Lavell Edwards Stadium,” said Holmoe.
Holmoe also said that he expects the rivalry with Utah will continue. “Chris Hill and I are currently working on that,” said Holmoe. “We’ve had some great discussion and really there are just a few small little details to fill out. We are both in agreement that its an important game to continue in the rivalry. ESPN is very excited for that game, so we will have that done in the very near future.”
Another issue to be tackled is access to the BCS.
Holmoe explained that BCS access was not the primary consideration in the decision to go independent in football, but that BYU has been in contact with the BCS and that they hope to work out an arrangement in the future.
“There is a process that we will go through, to find out what our access and distribution of funds might be. We’ve had the discussions early enough, but those details will be worked out in a formal way in the next days and weeks to come,” Holmoe said.
As it currently stands, Holmoe says that BYU can qualify for a BCS bowl if it finishes in the top 14 of the BCS rankings.