After an entire decade of being Independent in BYU Football the Cougars are now members of the Big 12 Conference.
This article is meant for one person, or a group of people who will fall under the same name that helped BYU Football get to where they are today, BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe.
Tom, if you don’t mind me calling you by your first name, I would like to thank you as a representative of Cougar Nation for all of your hard work and dedication this last decade to get BYU where they are today.
Back in 2010 you had to make a very difficult decision to take BYU somewhere that very few teams, if any other than Notre Dame, had been successful. Independence. At the time, it seemed like a very risky move, and in hindsight, it was very risky, but you had a vision.
While experts and probably even some within your close circle said that Independence wouldn’t work, you saw an opportunity to work with ESPN and BYUtv to create a brand that was unique, attractive and very successful.
Through your dedication and willingness to go where nobody else had ever gone, you provided student athletes across all sports to be featured on national television through BYUtv. No other network had ever successfully been able to create enough interest around a women’s volleyball match or baseball game to make it worth broadcasting, but you did it anyways and now thousands of athletes have had the exposure and opportunity to feel important that they would not have otherwise never had.
By getting BYU into the WCC, the Cougars had opportunities to continue to compete at the highest level. In the last decade, just about every team has had postseason success and has been highlighted with Final Fours in Men’s and Women’s Volleyball, an Elite Eight in Women’s Soccer, and Individual and Team National Championships in Men’s and Women’s Track and Cross Country amongst many, many other achievements. The Cougars won the WCC title for most conference championships every year they were in the WCC, and those years will not be looked down at as years in a bad conference, but years in a great conference with elite culture and competition.
As far as football goes, the list of accomplishments is endless. Not only were you and your team able to put together 12 game schedules every single year, but you were able to schedule some of the greatest teams in the nation, many of whom played in Provo including Texas, Wisconsin, Mississippi State, Oregon State, USC, Virginia, and Washington.
Aside from great matchups, you were able to maintain great relationships and rivalries with Utah State and Utah as well as create a new rival with Boise State who has become BYU’s most competitive rival since the 1990’s.
Through the years you were able to maintain and get TV contracts with Nike, ESPN and Coca Cola, the three leading brands in their respective industries. You were able to negotiate deals with Bowl Games that ranged from the Idaho Potato Bowl to the Las Vegas Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl. Even with coaching changes and a rough 2017, your team was able to keep BYU afloat to get them to a point where they were the most attractive option for expansion both in 2016 and now in 2021.
During Covid, you were amazing. When the rest of the western United States was buckling under the pressure to cancel the season, you stood alone and put games together. No other team in the country had to do what BYU did, and you did everything you could to give BYU a schedule, and it became the most fun season I’ve ever experienced. You didn’t have to do that. Had you cancelled the season and said it was too tough to try to put together a full schedule, nobody would have said anything about it. But you love BYU and wanted the players to have a season, the fans to have a season, and all of Cougar Nation thanks you for that.
Most importantly however, I want to thank you for being the greatest athletic director ever. You won’t remember this, but there was a time where you and President Worthen came up to my wife and I and asked how we were doing as we waited in the ROC line. I jokingly said “Pretty nervous since BYU hasn’t beaten Boise in awhile.” You looked at me, smiled and said “I feel good about tonight” and then you handed my wife and I both wristbands and went and talked to others in the line. In that brief moment I could tell that you cared about the fans, about me. Your purpose wasn’t to bring in a ton of money or position yourself for a promotion somewhere, you were there to interact with the fans.
I feel like I’ve barely touched the surface of all that you have done, but I want you to know that us as fans are grateful and would not have any other athletic director lead us into this new chapter as BYU enters the Big 12.