PROVO — BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe wanted to make it perfectly clear: the Cougars have every intention of playing this fall.
The tenured leader of the Cougars released a video Saturday on BYU’s social media feeds expressing optimism for the return of the college football season, quelling fears from fans while he walks into the camera and pulls off a BYU logo-stamped face mask.
“At BYU, we’re doing everything we can to be ready to go,” Holmoe said. “All of our Cougar teams: our coaches, our student-athletes, our fans. We’re going to be ready to go when they kick this thing back in.
“We’re grateful to Gov. (Gary) Herbert that he’s opening up the state a little bit. We’ll follow all the regulations. But our kids are chomping at the bit to get back and get ready for this season. We’re going to play; I don’t know when, but we’re going to play. And when we do, it’s going to be beautiful.”
Holmoe's comments echo his head football coach, who believes his team hasn’t been slowed down by restrictions surrounding the CDC’s recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We had goals and visions, but they’re all built on great intentions,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “The only good thing about intentions is where you start.
“We were accomplishing all our goals through spring ball, and I can honestly say that COVID-19 has not stopped that from going forward. All it’s done is adjusted things.”
BYU has currently closed all athletic facilities, like much the rest of campus, through May 31. Although the Cougars’ football program competes as an FBS independent, the closure is similar to most college conference recommendations around the country — including the nearby Pac-12 and Mountain West.
Utah’s move to the “yellow phase,” or low-risk status for the novel coronavirus, has not altered the current shut down. A BYU spokesman told KSL.com that the athletic department will reconsider the closure period if COVID-19 circumstances prompt a change in direction from both state leaders and BYU’s administration.
The Cougars haven’t been without their own busy itinerary this week, though. They’ve held Zoom calls with fans and boosters all week, and Sitake and BYU basketball coach Mark Pope each did an extra Instagram Live feature Thursday night — the same day Pope picked up a legacy commitment from Tanner Toolson, the son of BYU basketball Hall-of-Famer Andy Toolson.
On Friday, the athletic department, in conjunction with BYU dining services, sold nearly 6,000 Cougar Tails in the parking lot at LaVell Edwards Stadium (plus more than 2,300 bottles of chocolate milk from the BYU Creamery, according to BYU director of dining services Dean Wright.
“It’s been a real success. We had fans come down from Logan, from Ogden, a lot from salt Lake and the Sandy area,” Wright said. “To me, it’s almost emotional to see cars pull off Canyon Road into the parking lot.
“We just hope they are enjoying the day, that we brought some relief and happiness to them.”