COUGAR TRACKS

‘Takes Two To Tango’: Tom Holmoe Explains How BYU/Coastal Carolina Happened

Dec 3, 2020, 2:52 PM | Updated: 4:33 pm
BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe...
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe meets with reporters for his semiannual media Q&A roundtable in Provo on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. (Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – Tom Holmoe is always working on the BYU football schedule. But like everything else in our society in 2020, it’s been a “night and day” difference the work Holmoe and BYU have put into landing games amidst a global pandemic.

Adding a game against Coastal Carolina where ESPN’s College GameDay is on location might be the biggest feather in Holmoe’s cap on the scheduling front.

The game featuring a pair of undefeated teams came together after Liberty pulled out of their matchup with Coastal due to COVID issues. Opening the door for BYU and Coastal Carolina to take on the national spotlight in early December.

How BYU vs. Coastal Carolina came to be

“We got wind of Liberty possibly having trouble with their COVID situation. It was pretty much out there. But just whether or not they were going to be able to play,” Holmoe said via Zoom call with local and national reporters. “Like most of the games that we’ll find –we’ve pursued a lot– you try to get on the other end. It was going to be a little bit of time.

“So I went to the coaches first and made them aware of this game, and I had made them aware of some other games the day before, that we’re just literally possibilities. That’s kind of how you have to do it. I’m grateful to our coaches; they’ve watched a lot of film this week of a lot of different teams.”

Having a mobile and flexible scheduling approach came in clutch for BYU in stepping in for the Flames. College GameDay’s trucks started to arrive at the Coastal Carolina campus on Wednesday. There was a clear incentive for ESPN to make a game happen.

ESPN relationship was key in making the game happen

BYU has had a longstanding relationship with the worldwide leader that spans decades. The two are in year one of a second television agreement between the two parties. ESPN reached out to BYU afterword was buzzing about an opening.

Yesterday, as the day wore on, it’s good to have a great partner in ESPN. I had a friend that called me and said, ‘hey, look, you should start looking at Coastal real seriously.’ So we started on that,” Holmoe said. “Then ESPN called and said, ‘hey, would you want to do this, can you do this? Can you do it?'”

BYU being an undefeated team that had adopted the mantra of “Any team, any time, any place,” was up for the challenge when the game was in front of them.

“I knew these guys were ready,” said Holmoe. “Last week, I said to Kalani, it’s kind of like when there’s a married couple about ready to have a baby, and you have your bags packed by the door. That’s how it’s going to be, maybe. You might have to pick up your bag and go. It’s not that bad, but they were great.”

BYU coaches and players began studying film on the Chanticleers after they got word the game was going to be a possibility. Then had a late night practice that began at 6 p.m. and went till nearly 9 p.m. Coaches on the staff stayed up all night putting together a plan to take on the 9-0 Chanticleers.

“Kalani and his staff and the players, they wanted to play. They were just waiting, waiting, waiting, and then ESPN kind of said, hey, you can fill this game?”

BYU filled the game. An opportunity that could give BYU a chance to elevate its ranking for a case at an-large bid to a New Year’s Six bowl game if the College Football Playoff committee finds them worthy. The opportunity is all that BYU wants.

BYU Football players and coaches were a motivation for Holmoe

Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw called Holmoe on Thursday at 7:15 a.m. to wish him and the Cougars good luck in the matchup with the Chanticleers. Holmoe was appreciative to Liberty and Coastal Carolina for putting this game together in the first place. This game was added back in September and created an opening for a BYU team that hasn’t played an FBS program since November 6th.

BYU tried numerous times to get another game added to the schedule prior to Coastal Carolina, to finally have a breakthrough and land a game was emotional for Holmoe.

“It’s hard to express. I just kind of got grounded because of our team,” said an emotional Holmoe. “I just knew that this team had something going, they could really be special. And who knew? It’s just kind of been fun watching them that as they go and play, they’re having fun. It’s not all fun and games we’ve had some injuries, we’ve had some COVID virus guys. We’ve had some difficulties. But they’ve just had so much fun. I try to stay grounded just to plug into those dudes, plug into the coaches and they go, what do we got? What do we got? They just keep feeding me. Let’s play. Get us another game … It’s kind of motivation from the players and the coaches.”

To bring a game together like this that will have the college football world tuning it, it takes willing parties to be invested in the matchup. Holmoe was grateful for everyone that helped bring this game together.

“Thanks to the Sun Belt Conference and to Coastal Carolina, who said ‘let’s go.’ They didn’t have to play that game. No way they had to play that game. There’s a lot of struggles and trials to try and put together a game like that. We couldn’t have done it without them,” Holmoe said. “I’ve said this all along, all season long, it takes two to tango.  We’re just grateful that the Sun Belt and Coastal said yes, let’s go.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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