Zach Nyborg happy to return to BYU, tackle director of football operations job

Published: Thursday, May 29 2014 6:10 p.m. MDT

Updated: Thursday, May 29 2014 6:15 p.m. MDT

PROVO — Zach Nyborg was in his second year as director of football operations at the University of Wisconsin when he learned that the same position was open at his alma mater — BYU.

Nyborg mentioned that to his close friend, mentor and boss, Badger head coach Gary Andersen.

“Well,” Andersen told Nyborg a couple of months ago, “that’s something you may want to look at. But I’d hate to lose you.”

From there, Andersen contacted BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and told him that Nyborg is someone he should interview and hire.

“I really appreciated that recommendation,” Nyborg said.

In late April, Mendenhall hired Nyborg away from Wisconsin to become the Cougars’ new director of football operations.

“Zach is an individual of high moral values and character who brings experience, knowledge and innovative thinking to a position that is of utmost importance to a football program,” Mendenhall said in a statement at the time. “He will play a significant role in the continued success of our program.”

Nyborg replaced Duane Busby, who last week was reported to be at the center of an internal review by BYU of alleged NCAA infractions. The school announced Busby’s retirement in late March.

The Deseret News interviewed Nyborg shortly after he was hired in early May.

Although the Centerville native is thrilled about his new job, he admitted that it was tough to leave Andersen.

“Walking out for the last time was like being at the (LDS Church's Missionary Training Center), walking away from my family. It was very hard,” he said. “The Andersen family is family to me. We’ve been through a lot together. But they get it and they’re happy for me. It’s not a relationship that will ever end. I love them. When you walk out of the MTC, it’s an emotional thing. But the next day you wake up and you’re ready to go to work and you’re excited. I was excited to walk into the office here at BYU and go to work. I’m getting to know the support staff and the different departments that are involved with BYU football. I’m trying to get a good grasp before we hit the ground running. This is the best time to make a transition. Right now, a lot needs to be done but the urgency is not as much.”

Before his hiring, Nyborg didn’t know Mendenhall very well. He had a brief conversation with him prior to last November’s BYU-Wisconsin game in Madison, Wisconsin.

He is very familiar with the Cougar program. He’s close friends with former safety Mike Hague — the two were roommates at BYU. From his time as an assistant at Timpview High, he knows current Cougar players like Bronson Kaufusi, Craig Bills, Tui Crichton and Colby Jorgensen.

And during his time at Utah State, he helped recruit others on the BYU roster. “I have a relationship with some of the players,” Nyborg said. “It’s good to be back in Utah.”

Nyborg is a graduate of BYU’s Marriott School of Management and is completing a master’s in physical and sport education from USU.

Serving as a director of football operations isn’t something Nyborg ever planned on. When he was in high school, he had his sights on law school. After suffering a back injury while playing football at Viewmont High, he decided against walking on in college and focused on his education, attending BYU.

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