PROVO — Former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian stepped down as Washington’s coach earlier this month to take the job at USC.
Days later, the Huskies hired Boise State coach Chris Petersen, though Petersen hasn’t been involved very much with Washington's preparation for the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Francisco, where the Huskies will play BYU.
The Cougars beat Petersen’s Broncos this season, 37-20, in Provo.
Washington’s interim coach is Marques Tuiasosopo, a former Huskies quarterback. Petersen is busy recruiting and hiring his staff and will fully take over the program after the bowl game.
Mendenhall was asked if he was surprised Petersen left Boise State for Washington.
“No, I wasn’t,” he said. “My simple analysis of that, without talking to him other than before we played them (in October), what else is he going to do at Boise State? What other room is there to grow? They’ve been to BCS games. They’re not in an elite league. He’s done everything, I think, possible with the program and the situation that Boise is currently in and is ready for a new challenge.
“He’s taking on a lot, but sometimes you get anxious for more,” Mendenhall continued. “I think that’s what it is. I think he knows what he’s choosing. I think he’s excited about it. This is all speculation — that is just from my perspective of what I see. I think he just maxed out what he could do there and he wants to help other kids in a different program.”
BYU running back Jamaal Williams, who was recruited by Petersen and Boise State, didn’t expect Petersen to leave Boise.
“I was kind of surprised he left Boise State to go to Washington,” he said. “But it’s college football. Coaches have to do what they have to do for their families and what’s best for them. It’s like a business. Coaches have to leave sometimes. That’s one of the things I like about coach Mendenhall. He makes a promise that he’ll stay with it. He promised that he’d be here for a while. But he knows that he’s going to leave one day, but no time soon. So I’m just happy about that.”
IT’S FOOTBALL: Senior wide receiver/kick return specialist JD Falslev suffered a fractured hand during a team activity in late October, but returned to action sooner than expected, playing in the final two games of the season against Notre Dame and Nevada.
Doctors put a metal plate in Falslev’s hand during surgery after the injury. He was rehabbing four days later.
“I was very blessed and I’m lucky to be where I am with my situation. It’s been a roller-coaster of a month,” Falslev said. “Not something I’ve planned. But I have great people around me. It’s doing well. It will continue to get better. It’s not something I pay attention to on the field.”
In the Nevada game, he got hit on his broken hand with a helmet. Doctors X-rayed his hand during the game.
“That didn’t tickle. It didn’t feel very good,” Falslev said of getting hit with a helmet. “They just wanted to X-ray it and make sure the metal piece was still intact and the bone was intact. Once that happened, it was just a pain management deal. We got through that. But it wasn’t fun.”
Falslev called the injury a "freak” accident that could have happened anywhere.
He added that fractured bones are part of the game.
“It still felt broken after those first couple of games. It’s football. At this stage of the year, if you’re playing and nothing hurts, you haven’t been playing all year. Or you’re playing it the wrong way. It’s the game of football. It hurts, but at the same time, we’re a little crazy and we love to do it. You do what you do.”
'TIS THE SEASON: One of the perks of playing in a bowl game is the gifts.
“You can never overlook those things,” BYU senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna said with a smile.
Every bowl provides items for players and coaches to enjoy for their participation in the game.
What was Manumaleuna’s favorite bowl gift?
“Money is always good. The credit card,” he said. “My wife will appreciate that. The money aspect is always something that we look forward to.”