BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe emphasizes that football has to meet high performance standards

BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe talks to reporters in Provo on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head as I take another walk around the neighborhood.

I’m not ready to go back to the gym yet – how exactly do you breathe and work out while wearing a mask? — and since mid-March my exercise has consisted of outdoor volleyball two or three times a week and nightly walks. I miss shooting hoops. I’m afraid my jumper is going to suffer.

What do we do now? 

On Twitter, @SportyMcSport posted “Dear @TomHolmoe, wink once if you have something up your sleeve, wink twice if you don’t yet, but will soon.”

BYU’s director of athletics simply tweeted back the wide-eyed “surprised” emoji.

That’s probably how all of us are feeling after last week’s announcements from the Big Ten and the Pac-12 that they were going to play a conference-only football schedule in 2020. Imagine Holmoe, who has told the media numerous times over the years that he spends some time every work day thinking about the independent football schedule. The 2020 slate was as good as we’ve ever seen, but as of now, say goodbye to Michigan State, Minnesota, Utah, Arizona State and Stanford.

Ever since BYU chose the independence path, Holmoe has been focusing on future schedules. Now his focus shifts to trying to figure out a way to preserve the 2020 season.

I don’t envy his job right now.

There are a lot of options for Holmoe and I know he’s been making alternative plans since the coronavirus shut down the sports world four months ago. As much as Cougar fans would hate it, joining the Mountain West Conference for a year would work, as would playing Weber State, Southern Utah and Dixie State along with the various independent teams (Army, New Mexico State, UMass, Liberty and Notre Dame). Chris Dukes of Sports Illustrated even suggested that Notre Dame and BYU be invited temporarily to the Big 12.

This all may be a mute discussion. It’s possible we won’t see college football this fall. It’s an unwieldy and complicated beast, and the leadership of the NCAA has no power and no idea what to do.

It’s a pretty bleak outlook, but it’s realistic. Change my mind.

Far-reaching effects

And while we’re talking about conference-only play, it affects more sports at BYU than just football. The women’s volleyball and soccer teams generally play three or four matches against P5 opponents in the preseason. Neither of those schedules have been released yet. I spoke to BYU women’s volleyball coach Heather Olmstead and she said it’s been very difficult to schedule teams for the 2020 season. And that was before the Pac-12 and the Big Ten made their declarations.

An oldie but a goodie 

Best thing I saw this weekend was a 16-bit rendition of the battle scene from Avengers: EndGame on YouTube. It really brought back memories of playing video games when I was a kid and not really being able to make out what was going on because of the pixelation.

Things are changing 

While researching for a series of stories on 2020 BYU football opponents I looked up athletic department directories to find sports information phone numbers.

Did you know that Michigan State has 370 employees – including coaches, administrators, trainers and staff — listed in their athletic department? That got me curious, so I did a little digging. Utah lists 297 employees in their athletic department, Nebraska 350 and Alabama 375.

BYU employs 240 people in athletics, give or take a few.

The Cougars are certainly operating much leaner than many P5s, which may turn out to be what saves athletics at the school. BYU has one of the few Division I athletic departments that operate in the black. These numbers also point out the advantages P5s have over BYU in infrastructure.

Missouri recently cut $5 million from its athletic budget mostly in layoffs, furloughs and salary cuts. Nebraska has trimmed 10 percent of its operating budget (close to $13 million) and has let go numerous staff members.

We’re seeing more universities dropping sports from their athletic departments as budgets get tightened. Stanford cut 11 sports last week and is losing a portion of its 384 employees.

And get this: The Seattle Times reported that Washington State is operating at nearly a $100 million deficit.

Blows the mind, doesn’t it?

Just another stark reminder of how many people are affected by the shutdown of collegiate sports.

Think of others

I was following a social media exchange this weekend where someone was advocating wearing a mask while in public places to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Another guy responded, “I don’t want to start a fight, but if you’re protected by wearing your mask, why do you care if somebody else is wearing a mask?”

That’s the perfect analogy for the predicament we’re in right now. Wearing a mask isn’t about just you and me. It’s about the whole community, indeed our whole country. If everyone does the very least they can do by wearing a mask we can get past this thing and back to our normal lives.

Throw me a beamer

While playing volleyball at Orem Community Park this week I saw a father and his children playing cricket. That’s right, cricket. When I asked him about it, he said he had traveled to India recently and decided to give the game a try. I still don’t understand the rules or why a game can sometimes last several days. But the kids said they were having fun.

That’s all for now, but for this: We received our link to register for the BYU Football Media Day on Jun 20. I indicated my organization was the “Milky Way Galaxy Interstellar Sports Page (otherwise known as The Daily Herald).”

Think big, right?

Stay safe, mask up and have a really good week.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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