I love/hate Bronco Mendenhall! There is so much that I love about the guy, but so much that I would love to change. Sometimes it seems like the poor guy can’t catch a break. It seems like no matter what he does he is wrong. I’m going to start with things that bug me with Bronco because I want to end this with positivity.
The main thing I do not like is how “Football is Fifth”. When he first said it I thought it was just Bronco toeing the company line. He was just telling his higher ups what they wanted to hear. He said what BYU’s mission is: he wants to mold young men and make them better people. He essentially made himself their priesthood leader from what it sounds like sometimes.
Let’s remember why Bronco had to say this–let’s remember the Crowton years.
Bronco Mendenhall inherited a program that was nowhere near where a church-owned school should be. Crowton tried to ignore the honor code and everything unraveled on him. It got so bad that not only was Crowton losing players to honor code violations but also losing them to crimes. If you don’t know this story you can read it here.
This resulted in Gary Crowton’s resignation.
Bronco had to deal with all these honor code violations and figure out a way to win. He needed to change the attitude toward the honor code. He needed his players to understand that they needed to live to a higher standard because they are BYU Cougars. He started doing firesides and he even leads recruiting with a speech about the honor code. I commend him for that, but sometimes I think the football coach really believes that football is fifth.
I say that he believes that it is fifth because of his actions. Deep down I think there is a monster inside Bronco that wants to win games, but he doesn’t let it out because he is expected to do other stuff. As long as those other things are done and the Church is represented in a good light. That seems to him that’s good enough.
One other thing that I don’t like is that he is the ultimate bus chucker. Anytime BYU under performs he throws someone under the bus for it. It was justifiable for him to bus chuck Jaime Hill because the defense is his baby. I am not a fan of how things went down with Brandon Doman. Doman was chucked under the bus for the Jake Heaps situation when the only one to blame was Jake Heaps. Doman should have been given another year at least. I still feel he was better than Anae. Let’s face it there’s not a whole lot you can do with Riley Nelson being your starter.
There are people that argue that Bronco has taken the Cougars as far as he is going to take them. He’s the Steve Cleveland to BYU football and it’s time to hire the football version of Dave Rose. There may be some truth there, but I worry things could go the other way with a new coach. Here is what I love about Bronco Mendenhall and why he is the perfect coach for the BYU Cougars today. He’s not perfect, but he’s the coach that Cougar fans need and not the one they want or something like that. He’s the BYU Batman without the hockey pads and funny voice.
BYU needs him because he understands how to deal with the honor code in today’s society. You can’t just ignore it and you need to let recruits know what they are signing up for. BYU is unique and he realizes that and uses that to his advantage and realizes that it’s a disadvantage as well.
I’ve been a BYU fan my whole life and I realize that BYU is BYU and it’s not going to change.
BYU fans feel a disconnect with Bronco because Bronco is Bronco. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion and even when he does we criticize him for it. He is who he is and he doesn’t change. He doesn’t like to pander to the media or the fans and I respect that. He’s going to stick to his principles and do what he feels is best for the program. That’s the best you can hope for; that is, as long as he is doing what’s best.
The institution trusts Bronco Mendenhall completely. Tom Holmoe and the administration trust him to do what’s right because he has earned that respect from them. They won’t micromanage him because he keeps the schools mission in mind in everything he does. This is a trust that the football program needs. They do not need too many cooks in the kitchen.
Bronco brings a grit and determination out of his players. The players that buy into Bronco’s thinking take on his persona on the field. They work hard, they play hard, and they legitimately work on being better people. BYU is unique in that aspect and I would rather they be that way than win with scandals (or worse, lose with scandals).
Bronco Mendenhall is 90-39 in his ten seasons and 6-4 in bowl games. He has made a bowl game every year. What more do we want from him? Most would say they want BCS/ New Years 6 bowl appearance. Why do we have such a high expectation? Well, we get it from Bronco–he talks about going undefeated and winning a National Championship. We get mad at his success because Bronco wants us to expect more because he expects more from his program. “Quest for Perfection” and all that talk that people get mad at him for, I feel he does it on purpose. He’s not happy with mediocrity either.
The most important thing to remember is that Bronco will be the head football coach of our BYU Cougars until he doesn’t want to do it anymore. Hopefully when that day comes BYU can hire them a Dave Rose caliber head coach and not get another Gary Crowton. We don’t want to see the BYU football program down like it did with Crowton ever again.
Let’s be grateful for how Bronco saved the BYU football program and hope he helps the Cougars take that next big step and Go Cougars!