Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall sends a call to members of the defense during BYU football practice Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011.

SPRINGVILLE — At the BYU football fireside Friday, nobody addressed the possibility of joining the Big 12 Conference, or discussed a midseason quarterback competition pitting Jake Heaps against Riley Nelson.

Instead, head coach Bronco Mendenhall set a straightforward tenor for the hour-long meeting at an LDS stake center in Springville with his focused remarks. Mendenhall began his discourse reflecting upon the Cougar tradition of holding firesides on the nights prior to game days.

"Friday nights are the highlight of my week," he said. "It's pretty easy to explain — when you feel the Spirit and the happiness that comes with that, it's unmistakable and it makes you want to be in that place mentally and physically and spiritually as long as you can be there.

"And so for at least one hour every week, I get that. I love that more than anything else, and that one hour, to me, is sacred."

Later, Mendenhall offered a succinct definition of how BYU's football team fits into the overarching mission of the university and its parent institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"In a nutshell, all we're trying to do is live gospel standards and demonstrate them through a game that's watched by the world," he said. "And if they can watch us play and then draw that connection, that's my job description."

Junior defensive lineman Jordan Richardson and sophomore defensive back Skye PoVey also spoke at the fireside.

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"All of us can be missionaries," Richardson said. "BYU football is a little more visible, so we have quite the responsibility. BYU football … isn't just football — BYU football is living the way Jesus Christ would live in every aspect of our lives. We as team members can either take it as just a game, or we can take on that responsibility and decide for ourselves that we're going to do our very best to proclaim the good news of the gospel."

Thirty-two Cougar football players attended the fireside. Eight of them sang an a cappella rendition of "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy."