Posted By manage May 20, 2011
A warm and weird sendoff for Bronco
This is the way it supposed to work: The coach new employer gives the press conference, not his ex employer. Mendenhall was granted not one, but two pressers coming and going. He was treated as a conquering hero.
There was BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe sitting next to him at the press conference and saying, a very, very good football coach. He didn just praise his departing coach for local media, he talked him up with his new boss. had a chance to talk to (UVA athletic director) Craig Littlepage, Holmoe said, I told him, got a great guy, and he going to change your football team in a great way.
It was the warmest, fuzziest, weirdest coaching departure ever. The Cougars sent Mendenhall out the door with a hug. For a moment you thought they were going to slap him on the rear end. Go get Tiger.
They did better than that. They agreed to let him coach the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl. It like breaking up with a girl and a moment later she agrees to go to prom with you.
Mendenhall left the Cougs, but it felt like a mutual breakup, didn it? An amicable separation. A let divorce.
When Urban Meyer left town, the Utes did not hold a press conference for him. They let him coach in the Fiesta Bowl only because they had to many of his assistants were leaving with him but in Utah bowl media guide, Meyer was listed as the Bowl coach and assistant Kyle Whittingham as head coach. That was a slice of weirdness too.
When Bill Frieder announced he was leaving Michigan for Arizona State shortly before the NCAA tournament, he was told to leave immediately and to not let the door hit him in the fanny on the way out.
When Jim McElwain announced he was leaving Colorado State for Florida,wholesale nfl jerseys they didn hold a press conference for him and he didn coach the Rams in the Las Vegas Bowl. Chris Petersen didn coach Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl after he declared he was leaving for Washington. Nick Saban didn coach Michigan State in the Citrus Bowl after he announced he was leaving for LSU.
Mendenhall departure came out of nowhere. It was a strange turn of events because nobody bought into the Cougar Way more than this man. He wasn just drinking the Kool Aid; he was making it and serving it. He redefined the coaching job at BYU, at least partly because he had to in the wake of the disastrous behavior of BYU players under his predecessor, Gary Crowton.
Mendenhall made the job one part church calling, one part vocation. He quoted scripture. He compared his team to warriors in the Book of Mormon. He replaced names on jerseys with INTEGRITY, HONOR and TRADITION. He cut the number of recruits his staff pursued to focus mainly on those who bought into the honor code. Nobody was more committed to BYU mission than Mendenhall.
Then he left the school for an inferior football program, but one that offered more money and Power 5 conference membership. No one saw that coming.
And yet few seemed upset when he left. His departure was greeted with ambivalence, if not relief or even muted joy. On the surface, this is puzzling. Based purely on numbers, BYU should been begging the man to stay in Provo.
If the Cougars win the Vegas Bowl, Mendenhall will tie LaVell Edwards for most bowl wins by a BYU coach, with seven, and he did it in 11 years, not 29.
He won two conference championships during the six years BYU belonged to a conference on his watch.
He won 70.7 percent of his games only Edwards has done better at BYU, at 72 percent, and they named the stadium after him.
He won 99 games (and lost 42), second only to Edwards. During exactly the same 11 year period, Utah Kyle Whittingham is 94 46 or 67 percent, and you can decide who faces the bigger challenge Whittingham and Pac 12 competition or Mendenhall and BYU banishment to independence.
But Mendenhall was never fully embraced, and we can only guess the reasons. The Cougars plateaued. They beat few name opponents and mostly won games they were supposed to win. Recruiting declined, it being difficult to raise the bar for standards without decreasing recruitable talent. Mendenhall is a defensive whiz but his offenses were stagnant and the signature passing game gone.
And then there was Mendenhall himself a good man but about as much fun as Norm Chow and just as humorless. Nobody this side of Bill Belichick sucked the fun out of football more than Mendenhall. Didn you find yourself wanting to tell him to lighten up?