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BYU football notebook: Rivalry a bit colorful at times

Published: Thursday, Sept. 15 2011 8:31 p.m. MDT

BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall (Lennie Mahler, Deseret News archives) BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall (Lennie Mahler, Deseret News archives)

PROVO — Some people still bring up Holly Mendenhall's "Rivalry faux pas" — even though it happened nearly seven years ago.

Apparently, when it comes to BYU-Utah, people have long memories.

The day her husband, Bronco, was introduced as the Cougars' new coach at a press conference in December 2004, Holly showed up wearing, um, red. That would be the color of the archrival Utes.

Before taking questions from the media, Bronco Mendenhall felt he needed to offer an explanation to the assembled throng.

"I want to clear up a little bit of controversy that might be written about tomorrow," Mendenhall deadpanned. "My wife is dressed for Christmas, not in any kind of alliance issues. Let me make that clear right from the beginning. That's why we're such a good team. I'm very focused. And she's not."

Holly Mendenhall, who sported red when Bronco Mendenhall became coach, thinks the rivalry is overdone. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archives) Holly Mendenhall, who sported red when Bronco Mendenhall became coach, thinks the rivalry is overdone. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archives)

Holly laughs now about that mini-controversy. "I still hear about that," she told the Deseret News last spring. "Totally. I love the color red."

A Montana native, Holly didn't know much about the Rivalry before her husband was hired as BYU's defensive coordinator in 2003. Prior to that, Bronco was the defensive coordinator at New Mexico, where the main color is red.

"When we lived at New Mexico all we wore was red. Then overnight, we couldn't wear red," she said. "All we had was red. Finally I told Bronco, here's the deal — we won't wear red that week, but otherwise … People make such a big deal about it. I have a hard time into buying into it. I love red. It's a great color. And the University of Utah doesn't own the market on red. But around here, for some reason, everyone thinks it's a bad color. My kids will see a red truck and they'll say, 'They must be a Ute fan.' I'm like, 'Wait a minute. That has nothing to do with it. Maybe they just like red.'"

Color schemes aside, some fans take the Rivalry too seriously, she added.

"I really think the rivalry is so overdone here. I think it's turned into a mean state that's inappropriate in college athletics. I don't like that at all. … People always have their dirty digs and jokes that they think are so funny. If that turns their crank, whatever. There's nothing wrong with a really good, healthy rivalry. I love that and it's healthy. But it seems this one has gone over the top on both sides. I'm not taking sides. Both sides are equally responsible."

TIGHT ENDS TO BE HONORED: Last season during the home-opener against Washington, BYU honored its All-American quarterbacks.

For Saturday's home-opener against Utah, the Cougars will honor their All-American tight ends, including Clay Brown and Gordon Hudson.

FRIENDLY WAGER: For the fourth straight year, Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and his counterpart, Utah Valley Chamber president Steve Densley, have made a friendly wager over the outcome of Saturday's game.

If BYU wins, a BYU flag will fly over the Salt Lake Chamber. If Utah wins, a Utah flag will fly over the Utah Valley Chamber.

QUOTABLE: Bronco Mendenhall on how first-year offensive coordinator Brandon Doman is doing in his new role: "He's sleeping about like I am, probably. As you become a first-time head coach or first-time coordinator, there's a different amount of responsibility. I think he's handling it well. But it's difficult."

email: jeffc@desnews.com

twitter: @AJefferyCall

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