Those Boise State fans …

They come by the thousands to Albertsons Stadium and a walk around the parking lot before Thursday’s game revealed a very lively tailgate presence. I saw dozens of RVs and trailers adorned with Broncos logos. I saw horse trailers converted into Bronco tailgate stations complete with kitchen sinks, recliners, grills and 70-inch HD television screens.

And they love, love, love, continue to love, beating teams from Utah.

That includes BYU, naturally, and a terrific regional rivalry is being born. Not a blood rivalry like BYU-Utah and not a manufactured rivalry such as Utah and Colorado.

The BYU-Boise State rivalry is just a couple of really strong programs playing wildly entertaining games outside the Power 5 structure.

Both fans bases should have no problem getting behind that.

The Cougars and Broncos are contracted to play a home-and-home series until 2023. BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe has worked overtime to set up a strong independent schedule. There are gaps in November, as you might expect, and the top-heavy nature of September and October is a huge test for BYU’s depth and conditioning.

The home schedule is tough sledding because getting P5 teams to come to Provo is more difficult than getting an honest answer from anyone on the Big 12 board of directors.

Now that the Cougars path seems firmly fixed on independence at least for the foreseeable future, what’s next?

In 2017, BYU opens against LSU in Houston and also has Utah and Wisconsin at home. In 2018, The Cougars travel to Arizona, Wisconsin and Washington the first month – wow, that’s tough – and Utah on November 24. There’s also a home game against Cal.

In 2019, the marquee teams set up at LaVell Edwards Stadium are Utah, USC and Washington. In 2020 Michigan State makes good on the 2016 game with a return to Provo. Stanford shows up on the schedule in 2022, 2023 and 2025.

That’s a good framework. Many of the late October and November games are filled in with Mountain West Conference teams – at least, those who will play BYU. Don’t expect to see any Air Force, Colorado State, San Diego State or Wyoming matchups in the future.

You mad, bro? Still sore, I guess.

I would like to see Holmoe get a scheduling agreement with a P5 conference, maybe even the Big 12 or the Pac 12. That would strengthen the overall look and feel of the independent schedule. While he’s at it, Holmoe should set up some deals with some big fish like Ohio State, Florida State, Clemson, Oklahoma – all they can do is say no, right? Those trips to Columbus, Tallahassee, Death Valley and Norman would be, in a word, excellent.

We all know that everything is for sale in college football, even scheduling. Buy outs, TV deals, conference realignment – all of those things could topple any or all of Holmoe’s schedule efforts.

It’s a job that requires constant vigilance.

I spoke to a BYU athletic official last week before the Big 12 dropped its bomb and asked if Holmoe was just as busy fielding and making phone calls about scheduling. I was told Holmoe is involved in discussions about scheduling often, if not multiple times, every week.

Keep up the good work, Tom, and good luck. Independence scheduling will never be easy.

Darnell Dickson can be reached at ddickson@heraldextra.com. Follow him on Twitter @darnellwrites.

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