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Commentary: Would Bronco Mendenhall give himself an extension?

By Gregory Welch

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, June 6 2013 11:40 a.m. MDT

BYU's Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall talks to the media as BYU wraps up their spring football practices Friday, April 5, 2013 with a scrimmage game for the alumni at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Discover Card is currently running some clever ads where a person phones in only to find he's talking to another version of himself. In one, a hard-nosed investigator calls about his payment only to be greeted by his own brand of tough questions on the other end on the line. The spots close with the idea that “we treat you the way you’d treat you.”

Bronco Mendenhall and BYU are currently in some kind of negotiation. Perhaps they are actively negotiating. Perhaps they are negotiating by not actively talking. Athletic Director Tom Holmoe recently told reporters, “He's done a really good job for us and we're working on a contract to extend."

There are some good arguments to give coach Mendenhall a new contract. His total winning percentage of 72 percent is nearly identical to BYU legend LaVell Edwards. His defense is outstanding and fun to watch. He goes to and wins bowl games. Those stats were all tweeted Wednesday by ESPN reporter Joe Schad, who added on ESPNU that he had spoken to a source about the negotiations and according to that source, “BYU has not moved the ball along in its court to make a deal that keeps the coach where he seems to be an ideal fit.”

It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination that either coach Mendenhall or his agent are pushing for those facts to be reported by ESPN to help bolster their leverage in the current negotiation.

It’s understandable that Mendenhall feels he deserves a new contract. My question is, if Bronco Mendenhall was somehow negotiating with another version of himself, what kind of offer would he get?

If there was somehow another version of Bronco Mendenhall negotiating with BYU’s head coach, would he hand over a new five-year deal and say, “Good luck,” or would he share some stories he learned while training horses and say, "Let's see what you can do with the opportunity"?

If coach Mendenhall was negotiating with himself, would he point out that the contract’s short term is a problem of his own making? Mendenhall directed that contract he signed in 2010 or 2011 was a relatively short deal. He said at the time he intentionally signed a shorter-term contract because he wanted to make sure he earned the position as head coach.

"Would I have signed him to a five-year contract?" Holmoe said in 2011. "Sure, if the terms were right.” Also at that time, Mendenhall said, “How can you sign a 10-year deal? How does any of us know where they are going to be 10 years from now? So, just in fairness, three seemed … three years in coaching, that's like dog years, kind of. Three years in a coaching life is like 21.”

Would coach Mendenahll tell himself, "Hey, you wanted to earn it. Here's your chance"?

If coach Mendenhall were negotiating with himself, would he point out that he requires his players to work through their redshirt years without guarantees? NCAA rules say that athletes have five calendar years to play four seasons. The one year players are enrolled but do not play is called a redshirt. Usually coaches and players decide at the beginning of the year that students won’t play that year.

BYU does things differently. Rather than deciding at the beginning of the year, players are told they won’t play in August, but then have to keep working throughout the year to be sure that their redshirt is earned. Should players not work sufficiently hard enough, they may find at the end of the year that the year they took off counts against one of their four seasons they can compete.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported this change was made to set the proper tone. It quoted Mendenhall as saying, “I think it prepares them more for the real world, where you can't really take a year off and just be in an organization or on a team and [expect] it to be paid for.”

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