It’s been just about three weeks from what has become known as the “Miami Beach Brawl.” After an exciting and hard-fought bowl game, BYU and Memphis players traded punches when tempers flared. Immediately, there was pandemonium in local papers and talk shows. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Gordon Monson gleefully stated that this was the proof he’s been talking about for years that the BYU program is no different than any other in the country. Other concerned BYU alumni even wrote letters to editors of different news outlets about how the brawl necessitates that the football program be disbanded. Few, like radio host Kyle Gunther, said the Cougars absolutely did what they should have done given the situation.
My opinion? The whole thing is much ado about nothing. Was it one of BYU’s finest moments? Most certainly it was not. But how many Cougar fans remember that the 1990 Cougar team, with Ty Detmer right in the middle of it, brawled with UTEP? Just about nobody. Why? Because it’s football. Football is simply skilled violence, and it should be less than surprising when emotions run over after a game with a lot of chirping back and forth.
One brawl does not mean that what Bronco Mendenhall is doing is not unique. Neither did the 1990 brawl mean that LaVell Edwards was not doing something unique. To field a team where the players are expected to live up to a strict Honor Code and rigorous academics continues and will continue to set the team apart from many other colleges. Just think about it, Mendenhall has to worry about whether or not his guys are drinking coffee and having consensual sex with women they are not married to. Most other college coaches have to worry about the rampant culture of rape and drugs that permeates college football (for more information about this culture, read “The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian).
So, again, was the brawl a great moment in BYU football history? No. Was it the earth-shattering experience so many have stated it was? Absolutely not. It was just a group of guys playing a violent game that got carried away in the heat of battle.