Editor's note: This letter was written partially in response to "BYU's Mendenhall needs to serve his offense the D's Kool-Aid — and maybe change some of the servers," by Dick Harmon
To the editor of the Deseret News,
I am not one to write letters to the editor. In fact, this is the first time I have written to a news organization expressing my opinion on any subject. However, when I was suddenly awakened early Christmas morning, not by reindeer's hooves, but by feelings of dismay and disappointment, I was compelled to write. I am appalled and embarrassed by the fair-weather fans at BYU!
Some perspective might be helpful to the reader. I am a lifelong fan of BYU and BYU sports and for many years have held season tickets to football and basketball games. My wife and I attended BYU and both our parents attended and graduated from BYU as well. My father was also a professor at BYU, and spent his personal and professional life devoted to BYU's avowed principles and standards. Following family tradition, my oldest daughter now attends BYU. In short, I’m a Cougar from head to toe.
I grew up playing football (quarterback) and basketball (point guard) for Orem High, and I attended every BYU football and basketball game possible (hundreds). When I couldn’t attend, I listened intently to Paul James call the games on KSL radio — no one was better than James. At the home games before the stadium expansion, I remember playing football at halftime with other kids behind the bleachers in the north end zone; I would envision myself as Pete Van Valkenburg or Gary Sheide. In my driveway shooting hoops, I dreamed of being Danny Ainge; I even wore the No. 22 on my high school basketball jersey. I loved sports and I loved BYU. Despite having opportunities to play junior college ball, I chose to attend BYU after completing an LDS mission.
So it is with my life's perspective that I am disappointed to acknowledge that many fans have become spoiled and, in some instances, turned rotten. At times, while attending games, it takes every ounce of control I can muster to not expose the stupidity of some fans to everyone sitting within the sound of my voice.
I do not claim to be an expert in football or basketball, but at least I played both games and have coached at the high school level. The comments that come from some fans are absurd, and reveal their lack of knowledge of the sport and — more painfully — their lack of true support for a team they supposedly sustain! Over the years I have heard our players and coaches berated and harshly criticized by self-proclaimed experts and BYU fans who say they "bleed blue." With every critical comment, these so-called fans expose their own incompetence and lack of Christianity. I am sick of it; I am troubled by it.
Over the years, I've heard calls for even coach LaVell Edwards to be fired when things weren’t going perfectly. Now it's coach Bronco Mendenhall, coach Brandon Doman or coach Mark Weber who need to go? We need a scapegoat to punish for our "horrible" 8-5 season, which ended in a bowl game victory. What an awful year! It must be the coaching. After all, theses very coaches have spoiled us with how many 10-game seasons? (BYU has had five 10-game seasons and six bowl victories since 2006.) We now expect to win 10 or more games every year and to be consistently ranked in the top 20.
Do we not think the coaching staff has these same goals for each and every season? They do, and they have done a fantastic job of realizing these goals! Their success has led us to call for their heads when they've produced what 90 percent of universities in America would call a successful season! They produced a team that was a total of seven points away from playing in a possible BCS bowl game this year. (BYU lost to Utah, Boise State and Notre Dame by a total of just seven points). But they failed, so now let’s throw them out? Just who do we think we are going to get to replace them that can “guarantee” better results? This current football staff ranks in the top 15 of all programs in the nation for winning percentage over the past 5 years, but that isn’t good enough for some spoiled rotten fans, so throw the baby out with the bath water because we went 8-5 That makes a lot of sense!
The latest scapegoat seems to be coach Weber. Some want to blame all the offensive problems on the offensive line and their coach. They ignore the fact that the O-line was riddled with injury from before the season began, and the injury bug continued throughout the season. One player had serious complications after surgery. The Cougars were rarely able to put the same group of starters on the field at any time during the season.
Are these injuries coach Weber’s fault? Young and inexperienced players were called on to rise to the occasion against the very good defensive teams BYU faced this year. Say what you may to justify criticism of the offensive line, but Utah, Boise State and Notre Dame are some of the best defensive teams in the country, and few other healthy offensive lines had better success against these teams.
Coach Weber is the same coach that earned positive commentary and praise from analysts in past years for the stability and consistency the offensive line gave to the program. How quick we are to forget. A few years ago everyone was praising the offensive line and the tremendous role it was in BYU's success, and how BYU was so fortunate to have such an experienced and well-respected coach in Mark Weber.
Coach Weber is both loved and respected by players at BYU. I have met and spoken with these players. He brings so much to the football program and is possibly the best recruiter BYU has ever had. He also brings perspective to non-LDS athletes about what to expect at BYU and has been very influential in players' decisions to attend BYU where they would hopefully have positive experiences — both on and off the field.
Coach Weber is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has credibility with these young men. As a strong BYU Honor Code advocate, coach Weber is vital in helping prospective athletes gain an understanding and positive view about what to expect when committing to BYU and its unique moral standards. He is a great coach and an even better man. His personal life reflects every value and standard BYU espouses. I know coach Weber and his family personally, and know of no better Christian people anywhere than Mark and Kathy Weber and their daughters. They are devoted to their faith, their family and to BYU. It would be a devastating and tragic loss for BYU, the players, and our community if coach Weber is no longer on the BYU staff.
If coach Mendenhall reads this, please don’t listen to the minority of our fans who are at times very vocal yet lacking in football IQ! It would be morally wrong to make coach Weber the scapegoat for an 8-5 season that produced a bowl appearance and a bowl victory — not to mention coach Weber's major contributions to past successful seasons in furthering BYU's national presence.
This would be the ultimate negative footnote on this season: yes, a season with unmet goals and expectations, but also a season with much good to look back and build on. Coach Weber is most assuredly an instrumental part of the foundation for greatness to come at BYU.
S.J. Anderson is a reader of the Deseret News.