The news that Bronco Mendenhall will reshuffle his coaching staff comes as no surprise.
This is a pot of beans that's been simmering for some time. BYU's 1-4 start, and the worst season record (7-6) since Mendenhall took over as a 6-6 rookie head coach in 2005, opened the door for changes which have been rumored for months.
Why now? Why after so much giddiness over a 52-24 blowout of UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl and so much goodwill after finishing with wins in six of their last eight games? Well, because after posting winning seasons of 11-2, 11-2, 10-3, 11-2 over the previous four years, it was hard to sell the idea that changes weren't needed. This season is a catalyst for BYU to make the proper adjustments heading into a challenging role as an independent.
In a sense, this is exactly the right time.
That 2005 season that ended 6-6? BYU's players will tell you that season easily should have been a 10-win season, especially with the players onboard that included NFL talent that remains active in the big league today.
The reason BYU did not reach that potential in Mendenhall's first season is that he was breaking in coaches who'd never had the roles they were getting paid to perform. Subsequently, they struggled with game plans, game scripts, play calls, in-game adjustments and putting talent in the right positions.
There was also some stubbornness, like running the same play over and over again against Boston College in the season-opener and taking the game plan from the 51-50 overtime loss to TCU and "flipping it" right into the San Diego State game the next week.
The Cougars ended up losing to SDSU that following week and Mendenhall has consistently said that game was a turning point for his program. One reason? It was mismanaged so badly and the staff learned valuable lessons.
Then there was the abandonment of speedy wide receiver Todd Watkins, a legitimate deep threat, during his senior season. The move came primarily over a personality conflict and disagreement of his summer workout commitment.
This offensive staff is significantly ahead of where it was in 2005. There was progress. But there is plenty to improve upon. Things like collaboration, communication, diversity of ideas, full use of staff and talent, and the way the staff managed the quarterback position in 2010.
Mendenhall took the blame for the QB mess after the UTEP game Saturday. Nice of him to be the fall guy. Noble. And it is his responsibility to shape his staff and determine how it operates. He did fail, even if the staff just lost some of the best offensive players in history after 2009.
Mendenhall called in his offensive staff Monday morning and gave them the word. They were encouraged to seek other jobs. He would re-evaluate all of them if they reapplied.
I think Mendenhall will replace offensive coordinator Robert Anae, a coach hired by the 2005 acting athletic director, then-university vice president Fred Skousen, before Mendenhall was hired.
Anae's replacement will likely be Doman, who Mendenhall praised just over a week ago as the best quarterback coach in the country.
I think BYU will spare no effort to recruit and hire Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer to be BYU's quarterbacks coach and veteran assistant coach Lance Reynolds will be invited back for a role yet to be determined, if he desires to continue at BYU.
I think a few other offensive coaches could be invited back, including O-line coach Mark Weber, who did a great job this season. His players love him.
Why Detmer? Wouldn't that repeat the hiring of an inexperienced college coach like Doman back in 2005 when he left the San Francisco 49ers after a three-year career? Yes and no.
True, Detmer has not been a college coach, but he has spent a lifetime as the son of Sonny Detmer, one of the most respected high school coaches in Texas.
Detmer has nearly four times the NFL experience of Doman, a 14-year career that included making the rosters of the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons.
Detmer didn't stay in the NFL 14 seasons because of his playing career — he was an asset to those staffs because of his football knowledge.
When I left for Albuquerque last Wednesday in the Salt Lake Airport, who did I run into? Ty Detmer, who lives in Austin, Texas. I can only speculate why he was in town.
It's too early to say with any exactness the specific makeup and assignments of what BYU's offensive staff will be as 2011 begins.
But it won't be the same.
Decisions are coming.
Mendenhall believes he can establish a hungry offensive staff capable of guiding the Cougars' offense into independence with the same tenor he gave his defense on Oct. 3 when he fired defensive coordinator Jaime Hill.
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