Home > BYU Football > Cougar “fans” too quick to deride a coach they hardly deserve

Cougar “fans” too quick to deride a coach they hardly deserve

Harper Anderson

Sports Editor at the Student Review and Sports Anxiety

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Fan expectations have reached an all-time low for BYU “fans”. I say “fans” because that’s what they are. “Fans.”

I don’t know what I hated seeing more; facebook status’ that said “fire Bronco.” Or the five or six likes that it received from general naivety for being on display. I got into my own little battles in regards to who should be fired, and when. Which may or may not have inspired the following emotional rhetoric.

The bottom line: Don’t fire anyone, learn some damn patience.

Let me paint a picture for you by paralleling two stories.

A young gun by the name of LaVell Edwards was hired in 1972 as the new head coach for Brigham Young.

In 2005, Mark Bronco Mendenhall went from a newly hired defensive coordinator, to a newly hired head coach.

Edwards was taking over a dismal BYU team that was on the border of irrelevance and a black hole.

Bronco took over a struggling program. Not only was it the first losing season that BYU had seen in over 25 years, it was the first time they had three in a row since the early 60’s.

For LaVell, the turnaround came in his third season when BYU won their first Western Athletic Conference championship in ten seasons with their second winning season in three years. Followed by their first bowl appearance ever, that ended in an unfortunate 16-6 loss to Oklahoma State.

For Bronco, it was his second season as head coach when BYU finished as Mountain West conference champions with an 11-2 that included a 38-8 walloping of Oregon in the Las Vegas bowl. Not to mention finishing the season as the #16 team in the nation in the AP poll.

The following three seasons for LaVell went 6-5, 9-3, 9-2, respectively. The 9 win seasons were also seasons where the cougars finished first in the WAC, with the latter also being the first time BYU ended the season ranked in the AP poll. Ever. As the #20 team in the nation.

That pretty much brings us to present day with Bronco. Finishing in the top three every year as head coach of BYU in the MWC. Two of those being the outright #1 team in the conference. Not to mention a top 25 finish four years in a row from 2006-2009.

But wasn’t LaVell not only the greatest coach in BYU history, but up with there with the greatest college football coaches of all time? How could it be? I must be blaspheming his name by even mentioning Bronco in the same sentence.

“He needs to be fired!”

“He doesn’t win the big games!”

“He shows no emotion!” – Which, by the way, since when was this a bad thing for a head coach? Or are we so concerned that the reason the Utes beat us is because Kyle Whittingham looks like he’s going to scalp (not inspired by their school name) anywhere from 2-3 refs per game?

Bronco Mendenhall has been the coach of BYU for a little over 6 seasons with a record of 68-26. Compared to LaVell’s record during that span of 52-29-1.

Is this not roughly the same coach?

And don’t tell me it’s a strength of schedule difference in there. The WAC in the 70’s-90’s is practically identical to the MWC from the 90’s-2010 — with the exception of a more dominant Utah team in the later MWC years.

LaVell also lost what you could consider to be the “big games” except for in 1984, when BYU won the national championship. Which was also his 13th season as BYU’s head coach. Do your research before asking that somebody lose their livelihood.

I understand that this comparison may be a little unfair to our beloved Coach Edwards. But what I’m showing with these numbers is that side by side, the two coaches are looking very similar. I’m saying that it’s possible if these guys flip-flopped situations completely, you may have seen a similar result from each of them.

If you ask me, Bronco Mendenhall is one Ty Detmer or a convoluted national championship away from being in talks as the greatest football coach BYU has ever seen.

Simply put, you’re being ridiculous if you want Mendenhall gone. It shouldn’t have to be me telling you to lower your expectations and have patience. My mom’s been telling me that since I lost the pinewood derby at age nine.

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Harper Anderson | harperdanderson@gmail.com | 801 707 9606 | @Harpey7

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Categories: BYU Football
  1. September 21, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    My problem arises when coaches at any level continue to sacrifice a player’s health for marginal returns. If Riley Nelson is discovered to have been injured and the coaching staff allowed him to play, they should be reprimanded. No players safety, if that is truly a concern, should come before the success of the team. I think Riley Nelson is hurt – that’s why I think Coach Mendenhall should be reprimanded – although I’ve backed down from the “Fire Bronco” clarion call.

  2. Matthew Stoddard
    September 22, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Anyone who has played sports with the fire that Riley Nelson has had knows that if it were up to Riley, he’d never come out of any game, no matter what. That is Riley making the call, not Bronco. As the coach, you let the players (who happen to be grown adults) make their own decisions about how much they hurt and if they want to throw in the towel. Bronco trusts Riley. That’s why they played him. They all–Riley included–realized he couldn’t hack it anymore with any type of effectiveness, so they made the decision to pull him. I can’t fault any coach who believes in a senior captain and leader of the team who has delivered them several times in the past.

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