BYU announced its 2011 football schedule Wednesday night on BYUtv.
It’s a mixed bag of challenging opponents jumbled in with some dogs.
It’s the reality of trying to schedule games with just a one-year notice, as every program makes their schedules five to 10 years in advance.
The move to independence will not be without some bumps along the way, and the schedule for 2011 and even 2012 will be a couple of those.
For the first time in history, the Cougars will play seven home games—that’s the good news.
The bad news is that four of those games will be against the likes of San Jose State, New Mexico State, Idaho and Idaho State; that doesn’t exactly equate to a scintillating home slate.
The ISU Bengals are a lower-echelon FCS program that BYU could probably score 100 points on if they chose to do so.
The other home games will be against Utah, Utah State and defending Conference USA champ Central Florida. The road games will include contests with teams from the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12.
The Cougars open the season September 3rd on the road at Ole Miss and then head to Austin the following week to take on the Texas Longhorns. They will also travel to Oregon State for a mid-October showdown with Bronco Medenhall’s alma mater.
The other road games will be at WAC institutions Louisiana Tech and Hawaii, closing the regular season on the islands December 3rd.
BYU AD Tom Holmoe said that he expects Hawaii to be a regular on the Cougars schedule in the future. Such a move should strengthen BYU’s recruiting in that talent-rich area.
In the unveiling of the schedule, Holmoe said that he and Mendenhall considered adding a 13th game to the schedule, but that the only options were to add another FCS school to the home schedule or play a game on the road.
Both of them felt that the travel schedule of going so far south (twice to Texas, to Oregon and to Hawaii) was already a lot of miles to travel, so the decision was made to forgo another game and have two byes on next year’s slate
The exciting news from Holmoe was his announcement that the Cougars appear to be closing in on deals to play some heavy hitters. He announced that home-and-home deals are in the works with schools currently involved in BCS bowl games and ranked in the the nation’s Top-10.
For reference, teams currently ranked in the Top-10 include Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Stanford, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan State and Boise State.
Virginia Tech and Connecticut are not in the Top-10, but are playing in BCS bowl games.
He also mentioned that they are working to create more games at neutral sites, similar to the 2009 game with Oklahoma and the 2016 game with West Virginia to be held at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
It’s obvious that BYU’s partnership with ESPN is paying huge dividends in increasing the Cougars exposure and opportunities.
It’s interesting to consider BYU playing seven homes games a season, a game or two at neutral sites and three or four games on the road.
It appears that Holmoe and Mendenhall are going for the gusto here and have a big vision of taking BYU football to the next level. There is a lot of heavy lifting to do to get things there, but BYU seems to have a clear vision of where they want to be.
Holmoe also mentioned that Bronco Mendenhall is on board and committed to building the program to the point that the Cougars can consistently take on top-drawer schedules.
It will all begin with attracting talent, and that begins with getting the top LDS talent to come to Provo. It will also include creating an environment in which non-LDS student athletes can thrive and feel more at home.
The Cougar coaches will not only need to continue to increase the quality of talent in the program, but the quantity of that talent as well.
In one of the all-time classic sports movies, Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella hears a voice whispering to him: “If you build it, they will come.”
Holmoe and Mendenhall have heard a similar call, and are in the midst of building something that will attract, perhaps even compel, student-athletes to take a long, hard look at the benefits of playing college football at Brigham Young University.
Few programs will be able to offer prospective athletes more opportunity to play on national television, to play in storied stadiums in every part of the country and do it in what has to be considered the safest environment in college football.
If it’s built right, this ride to independence will be a wild one and take BYU to new heights.