PROVO — Much has been made this week of the earlier-than-usual start of the annual Rivalry Game. It marks the first time since 1958 that it's been played in the month of September.
Prior to this season, BYU and Utah had met in the month of November every year since 1968.
Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall doesn't enjoy getting ready for the Utes three weeks into the campaign.
"It feels a lot different. It doesn't feel right," the coach said after Tuesday's practice. "It feels like the game is being played eight weeks too early, doesn't it? Might as well just say it — I don't like it. We'll play it but it's a lot better at the end. That's when a rivalry is supposed to be played."
Mendenhall was asked if he would prefer that the Rivalry Game be played as the season-opener for both teams.
"I'd like it to be the last game of the season — period," he said emphatically. "That's when it's supposed to be played."
NO MORE INTERVIEWS: For BYU players and coaches, the talk is over. Media availability ended Tuesday evening, which means reporters have no more access to players and coaches the remainder of the week.
During a normal week for a Saturday game, media access is extended through Wednesday. After practice on Tuesday, only Mendenhall and the four team captains — Matt Reynolds, Bryan Kariya, Jameson Frazier and Travis Uale — were made available for interviews.
"I'm basically trying to make sure that our team can focus as much as they can just on playing the game," Mendenhall explained Tuesday. "It's hard enough as soon as they leave outside the fences here because of all of the comments (about the game). It's just one less thing they have to deal with, at least on a formal basis."
A CUT ABOVE: Uale is not only BYU's starting safety, but his many talents benefit his team off the field as well.
Uale is a DJ who entertains at parties around town, going by the handle of "DJ Kid" when he works those gigs. Asked about the origin of that nickname, Mendenhall said, "Couldn't tell you. Maybe we should have him mix for us, then we could decide ourselves. I've never heard him."
What's more, Uale cuts the hair of his teammates and coaches. Uale's wife, Lotomata, is enrolled in beauty school and she comes into the football office every other Thursday to provide haircuts for the coaches. When Lotomata is not available, Travis steps in.
"I'm the substitute," he said. "If you look at coach Mendenhall's hair, I did that. If you think that looks good, then I passed the test as the substitute barber."
Uale admits he was "really nervous" about cutting Mendenhall's hair for the first time.
"I was asking him a thousand questions (about how he wanted his hair to look)," he said. "You know how he is. He's so blunt. He was like, 'Just cut it. Make me look good.' "