Interesting comments out of Provo on Wednesday. BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe sat down with BYUtv's Sports Nation to explain how the Cougars' four-game series with UMass--two in Provo on October 8, 2016 and November 18, 2017, and two at Gillette on November 10, 2018 and November 23, 2019--came about.
Here's Holmoe's full response (emphasis mine):
"That game is interesting in that started by the Patriots calling me, and saying, 'Hey, how'd you like to play a neutral game with ... and we started to look at teams in the region of the Northeast that would be what you would call 'anchor teams.' Use your imagination. We could never really pin down one of those anchor teams.
So the next thing they came back and said, 'Well, hey. UMass can play there, and when they went independent, decided to go independent. Part of it was it was good thing for us, but the four games came down to the fact that we need games. People just don't understand ... it's not easy to get 13. So when we can get four in one chunk, that's good. And to be able to go back there and play in a nice stadium and part of it -- a small part -- was helping a little brother independent.
I know what it was like when we went independent. We needed help, and so we're giving them a little help. Maybe they're just starting -- they're a younger Division I-A team -- but part of it was, we'll reach out to them."
Obviously a lot here. Let's break this down one at a time.
-- If it's true that the Patriots came to BYU first with the idea of playing games at Gillette, what's that say about UMass's prospects for filling a 12-game schedule as an FBS independent?
-- And if the Patriots took an interest in bringing one of the nation's few remaining college football independents to Gillette, could Kraft start looking for other big-name programs to play in the home of the Patriots? Does the fact that the Pats are sniffing around for additional college football events undercut BC's ability to ink home-and-home deals with other Power 5 conference teams wanting to play in the Northeast?
-- Why wasn't BC given a call as one of those 'anchor teams' to face BYU? And if they were, why did BC say, 'Thanks, but no thanks'? I know the answer here, but it's slightly more complicated.
The program is really between a rock and a hard place on this one. While I've long advocated for BC and BYU to ink another home-and-home series given the interest on the part of the Cougars, the Eagles really have no incentive to play BYU going forward. The ACC essentially took the decision out of their hands when they determined that BYU would not count towards the league's non-conference strength of schedule requirement. The recently added strength-of-schedule component requires all ACC schools to play a Big 12, Big Ten, SEC or Pac-12 opponent, or Notre Dame, on an annual basis beginning in 2017.
A seven-game home schedule seems to be the minimum season ticket holder requirement these days, especially with one of those games occurring on a Friday. So if Boston College's goal is to maintain a seven-game home schedule going forward, there's really no room on the annual non-conference schedule to take on road games at non-Power 5 conference opponents. In the off-chance BC does, they better be damn sure that there's not going to be another road game against a Power-5 conference opponent that season (hence the optionality embedded in the Northern Illinois return trip...2016 OR 2017).
If the program was in a bit better shape in terms of future non-conference opponents and already had non-conference home games scheduled for specific years, then you don't mind playing one non-conference road game out in Provo or an 8th game at a neutral site like Foxborough (7+4+1). Otherwise, you just pass.
Boston College dodged a bit of a bullet here in that BYU is only playing UMass at Gillette. You can imagine much worse matchups involving other Northeast 'anchor teams' not named BC. But it's also concerning that the Patriots are allegedly trying to play college football matchmaker with programs not named BC. Not sure what that means for BC's long-term non-conference scheduling prospects, but I suspect it's not the most welcome of news at Conte Forum.