BYU football: Patience paying off for BYU quarterback James Lark

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  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 17, 2012 10:11 p.m.


    As a coach I've learned that you simply can't please everyone, there are always more players than positions on the field and some players are better than others. I have to admit though that the insistance of continuing to play Nelson when he was obivously not getting the job done for whatever reason, and to not give an opportunity to an apparently capable other player, has been more than curious. I've heard all of the conspiracy stories of course, and I have expressed my frustration with the fact that regardless of Nelson's performance he was constantly given chance after chance.

    I really would like to know what was supposedly done that was mistreatment of Lark. It doesn't appear that the Dnews will allow that to be posted so I'll just have to reserve opinion on that until I can hear what occured.

    But I really do hope Lark gets the start in the bowl game, I think his performance against NMSU was enough for him to deserve it and Nelson's performance over the season has shown him to be lacking.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 17, 2012 8:59 p.m.


    I'ver now tried twice to respond to you telling you what team I coach and the comment has been denied by the dnews. The email I got says my comments were "off topic and disruptive" although I am not sure why since all I did was say who it is I coach. Not sure what to say beyond that since it doesn't appear they are going to let me do it.

  • Dr Rush Saint George, UT
    Dec. 16, 2012 7:16 p.m.

    I have to laugh to think that Mendenhall or Doman would apologize about any of the glaring mistakes they have made and the decision to play anybody but Lark is the worst. I have to ask the coaches on here a question, hasn't it been obvious that Nelson was not a D1 QB? I'm not a coach but I played football and a lifelong fan and Nelson is one of the worst D1 QB's I've seen. There is no logical reason to not have given Lark playing time going back to last year. So I have to ask is the decision not to play Lark being made by 2 coaches not qualified to coach D1 football or is it personal?? It's one or the other.

  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    Dec. 16, 2012 5:26 p.m.

    Duckhunter, what team do you coach ?

  • fender Washington, UT
    Dec. 16, 2012 12:50 p.m.


    You've got it right. I think everybody who has coached and has followed this drama over the past three years is on the same page here. You don't apologize simply for making the sometimes difficult decision about who plays or doesn't. After watching Heaps, Nelson and Lark and and hearing what a couple of BYU players I coached had to say about the situation, I was very surprised that James didn't play, but it was Mendenhall's right to make that call.

    With regard, however, to what Amorphous said, I too heard some comments by several of Lark's teammates about his treatment. It's hearsay and I'm not going to attempt to recite any of it here, but if the substance of it is close to the truth, then, yes; at the very least an apology is due. I think we all know that's not going to happen. James has proven to be the bigger man and in the game of life that's really what matters

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 16, 2012 9:09 a.m.


    Everything I have ever seen from Lark confirms your assertions about his character. He appears to be a fine young man. I wish him well and I do hope he gets the opportunity to play in the bowl game.

  • antiphonus Oxford, Oxon
    Dec. 16, 2012 7:49 a.m.

    Paying off? That's what the BYU coaching staff wants to believe after they've sacrificed this young man's collegiate promise (and possible pro career). Perhaps Lark himself is invested in believing that his one start (after ALL other options had been injured or exhausted) is the pay off he had worked for. The truth is that it is too little, too late, only highlighting the potential this kid had that the coaching staff squandered instead of developing...Sad.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 16, 2012 7:08 a.m.

    To all of the above: Take a deep breath and let the coaches decide. There are too many arm chair coaches.

    Instead lament and speculate why the high and mighty Utes are not playing a bowl game this year. Think about how jolly the holiday is for them and all their fans!

  • Amorphous Saint George, UT
    Dec. 16, 2012 1:23 a.m.

    Well, unless we meet in person some day, which is obviously not likely, I will not be able to tell you. I have tried to post it many times but have not been approved any of them.
    Suffice it to say that James has, as he says in the article, learned many lessons. He has displayed humility and patience beyond his years. If I say any more than that it won't make it to print...again.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 16, 2012 12:00 a.m.


    Actually I am a pretty successful coach and I have apologized to players on many occasions when I felt I treated them unfairly or got after them more than I should have. I have never apologized to a player because I made the decsion to go with someone else as my starter, and doubt I ever will. If coaches did that they would be apologizing to the majority of the players on their team every single week. That just isn't how it is and it is not in the best interest of the team. You want your players to compete, week after week, you want them to remain motivated and ready. Apologizing to them because they are not as good as another player in your opinion would be pretty detrimental to a teams moral. It just isn't a good way to manage your team.

    But as I told Amorphous, if Lark was in someway mistreated that I am not aware of I would like to hear what it is and then I can make a more educated statement about it. But based on what I know there is no apology required.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 11:52 p.m.


    Well I am not privy to how he has been treated if indeed he has been badly treated. I would like to know if he has been and specifically what has been done to him. But all I have seen is that the coaches decided to go with someone else. Now you and I can think that was the wrong decision, and I can tell you I have my doubts that Riley was really the better guy, but that just means Mendenhall and Doman are poor judges of the talent they had, not that they personally mistreated Lark to the point that he is due an apology.

    So if he has been mistreated in some way, and not simply passed over for another player because the coaches felt the other guy was the better option, then I would be very interested to know what occured.

  • Cougar Claws Lindon, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 11:29 p.m.

    Re: SundanceKid27

    The only problem with that school of thought is that 'Rudy' didn't play because he had zero talent and athletic ability. Sort of like the injured version of Riley Nelson ironically. At BYU Rudy actually plays pretty often. Not at all the case with James Lark. Lark has raw NFL potential with his arm, his overall strength, and his mobility. Lark is like a not as fast, but better passing version of Taysom Hill. Same NFL type body, big and strong, and smart. But, could be an NFL prospect had he been properly coached up and his career put to good use. I know James has no chance as a potential draft pick, but given his skills, could he have a shot at making an NFL roster as a free agent? Does Lark have plans to give scouts a look or the NFL a shot?

    Looking forward to the future of Taysom Hill, though. He could certainly be an NFL guy if he stays healthy and continues to develop his passing game. The fact that he has already done what he has as a true freshman is pretty exciting.

  • SundanceKid27 OREM, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 10:27 p.m.

    They can make the new Rudy movie after this season. Guy is back up for a 4 years and finally gets a start on the last regular season game. Does very well. Bowl game he is on the bench again. Music Starts and roll those credits.


  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    Dec. 15, 2012 8:24 p.m.

    Duck is typical of many unsuccessful coaches. Not willing to admit fault and acknowledge a coach can make terrible choices that in college can cost a guy a career. Of course they should apologize.

  • runnerguy50 Virginia Beach, Va
    Dec. 15, 2012 8:20 p.m.

    Lark is all class. I wish I could say the same about his coaches.

  • Ronald Uharriet SWun City, Ca.
    Dec. 15, 2012 3:58 p.m.

    I’m not agry that we have a 7-5 season.
    I’m not angry that we lost close games to ND, Utah, Boise State, San Jose State, and hung tuff vs. Oregon State before falling to them as well.

    I will not be angry if we have a 6-6 season next year with the toughest schedule that BYU has ever had. It is exciting to watch games that BYU plays vs. the Big Guys, while it is boring watching them beat up on the little guys. So bring all all comers from the big boys and by pass the boring give me games, i.e. Idaho,

    What I am angry about is one of two things, and I’m not sure which:
    1. The bias shown for one player at the expense of another more deserving player,
    (talent wise), while both players are equal seniors.
    2. Without bias, but with a total inability to recognize talent, teach and develop talent, like
    the one they ran off, a 5 star QB to Washington, and sit a truly gifted senior, Lark, on the
    bench while playing another far less gifted senior even when injured.

  • Elk Hair Caddis Sandy, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 3:51 p.m.

    @duckhunter & Amorphus

    Why an apology? Not because they chose a better player in their eyes to start when Riley went down, but rather because they told Lark they would play him if Riley went down. When Riley went down they chose to train a freshman rather than keep their word.

    I have never been a coach (except for little league) so I can't talk from that perspective. But I have done some research on Vince Lombardi and John Wooden to learn more about leadership in general.

    One common trait of these legendary coaches was the capacity to apologize both individually and collectively to players.

    As a fan I only know what is public information and BYU coaches stated publicly that Lark would get the start if Riley went down and Lark was the listed backup until Riley went down. Then a last minute switch was made to put the freshman in.

    Perhaps Lark has already been apologized to. I hope so. If not I believe it is unfortunate

  • Billy Budd Saint George, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 3:36 p.m.

    Lark produced, in the game, against woeful NMSU.
    Hopefully, he will have an opportunity to do the same, against a much better team.

  • Ronald Uharriet SWun City, Ca.
    Dec. 15, 2012 3:36 p.m.

    Bronco Mendenhal and Brandon Doman should donate money to build a bigger than life size
    statue of James Lark and have in on a pedestal at the entrance of the Lavel Edwards Stadium that says at it’s base,

    “James Lark, We sincerely apologize to you for not recognizing your greatness and sitting you on the bench for all four of your seasons except for the New Mexico State game and the
    Poinsetta Bowl in season 2012. You were fantastic in both of those games you played in. They were the two best games of the season. "

  • Amorphous Saint George, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 3:24 p.m.

    As I suspected, we are commenting from absolutely different perspectives. I cannot disagree with you at all regarding starters or non starters. If that is your point, no agreement from me.
    My point is there are issues behind the decision that warrant an apology. James is polite when he says things like he was"frustrated" and has had a few sleepless nights. He is the consummate gentleman. How he has been treated, not where he has been seeded, is where an apology is warranted.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 2:01 p.m.


    Two things about that, one being I don't think Mendenhall or Doman think they did make a mistake. For whatever reason I think they really do think they went with the right guy. So as a coach, when you choose who it is you are going to start do you apologize to the ones you don't start? Why would you? I sure don't. It is called competition and if in the mind of the coaches one guy won the comeptition then why would they apologize? It really makes no sense to even suggest that they do.

    Secondly do you think they should also apologize to every other player on the team that they decided was not going to be their starter at a given position? Don't tell me that you do that because you don't. I certainly don't. Anyone that is going to play competitive sports has to understand that someone else may be better then they are, or that the coach who decides such things may think someone else is better.

    Saying a coach should apologize for making those decisions is ridiculous.

  • Amorphous Saint George, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 12:28 p.m.

    So, coaches can make mistakes but are above apologies? First, you have no idea what James has been through in life and now at the hands of these coaches. I don't know that Elk Hair does either, but I do, and an apology is absolutely in order, at the very least. Fender is right, though. It is too little, too late, even if James does get the start in the bowl game.
    I have also coached for many years and no one has ever questioned my ability nor my manhood when I have approached a player who was the object of one of my mistakes and apologized for it. Perhaps you meant something other than I am taking from your comment. If so, I apologize. Otherwise, your approach is worrisome. No one is above apologizing.
    And while they're at it, they should apologize to Riley and the entire team, as Kokua says, for not being mature enough as coaches to sit Riley down instead of asking him if he could go week in and week out. Riley is a man and would never so "no".

  • Real Bass Idaho Falls, ID
    Dec. 15, 2012 11:17 a.m.

    Hey big red. How's that toilet bowl prep going. Oh wait that was the Colorado game wasn't it.

  • CTJ fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 11:03 a.m.

    Not sure about that title, I don't see how his patience paid off? He's at the end of a career, never really got a fair shot, the guy is not without skills, so how did he not get a shot with the troubles we had at quarterback. I understand Taysom is the future but there was a chance for a magical season this year, it was set up to get to a BCS bowl this year, the defense was definitely good enough, and all we needed was a decent offense to win those games and with the inconsistant play at quarterback it doomed the season. There were too many mistakes! But I don't know that patience paid off, yes I'm sure he's learned a lot and will be a better person in many ways for it, but with his career in football it didn't pay off sorry. All he's left with is what the rest of us are left with, and that's what if. Nobody will ever know if he had a chance where things would have ended, and sometimes that's worse.

    Dec. 15, 2012 11:02 a.m.

    Getting all excited about a player who puts up big stats against the team that ESPN had as being one of the three very worst in the entire country. Really?

    And the title of the article "Patience pays off"? You mean, after four years of riding the pine, it really may pay off for having played, at the most, two games for your entire career? I'd say that Lark got the royal shaft. Nothing redeeming in that.

  • blue & white Boise, ID
    Dec. 15, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    Lark should start even with a healthy Nelson. its a blessing to have a QB hit open receivers so take advantage of that coaches! I saw the BYU of old in the NMS game and it was fun. Talk about returning to your roots, its starring you in the face. I hope yall recognize it. Play the best players! i don't understand why you dont see this in practices. Taysom Hill is better than Nelson. Because Nelson is a senior and has grit, leadership, and plays hurt (this hurt the team this year) he gets to start? dosen't make sence when other QB's are better at the QB skill. we have great receivers and need a QB to deliver the ball.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 9:05 a.m.

    Could play in to a mid round draft pick if he's awesome in this game.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Dec. 15, 2012 8:36 a.m.

    Sorry, I really don't see how his patience has paid least from a football perspective. He should have been the starter last year.

  • Middle of the Road Home Town USA, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 8:20 a.m.

    It is hindsight now to say but Riley only played badly because of injury. He did time and time again. It is too bad Lark was set aside and Taysom was put in and injured. Lark's timing is now perhaps and now he can shine. What if he had played and injured like Hill was early after in his first game. I admire Lark for what he learned on his mission. He learned patience and did not give up! Thanks for hanging in there, buddy. Your future has promise. Buena Suerte!!

  • Tom in CA Vallejo, CA
    Dec. 15, 2012 8:19 a.m.

    If Lark does not start, it may be because of the fear the coaches have of being further "exposed". In the NM State game, Lark looked like the great BYU quarterbbacks of the glory days. This year has been a waste of great receivers (no one to deliver them the rock), and the best defense BYU has ever had.

    So the article states "Nelson is still nursing a sore rib" - well, to me that is "code" for he is not, and will not be ready to start in the bowl game. Since the coaches seem to be struggling in their decision making, Riley Nelson should take the lead, go to Mendenhall and inform him that Lark will start the game next week. This is a no brainer. The whole Cougar nation is expecting to see Lark as the starter.

  • fender Washington, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 7:39 a.m.

    I don't know that an apology is "going too far", but it's irrelevant at this point. The damage has been done, both to Lark's career and to BYU's chances for an extraordinary season in 2012. Mendenhall's decision-making in this case has proven to be quite flawed in this case and there may be consequences for him and his OC and QB coach, but an apology means little at this point and changes nothing.

    A more effective and meaningful response would be giving Lark the start in the bowl, and I'm pretty sure that's going to happen.

  • kokua KAYSVILLE, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 5:32 a.m.

    James is more then you ever will know, far more then a quarter back. James career at BYU will go down as the great " Could a, Would a, should a " season of what if only the coaching staff let him play earlier in the season ? I am so happy for James.

    I hope the coaching staff has the courage to acknowledge that Riley will not be able to go in the bowl game because of his season long injury of a broken back and broken ribs that he has suffered and played with since the middle of the Weber State game.

    Why do we not hear the real reason here ? I can answer, it will make them look bad. The tragedy of the 2012 season was completely avoidable. James was passed over in the BSU game and then again, and again, and again until the NMS game.

    It is sad the coach's do not own up to the poor decisions instead of blaming the season on Riley and his long hair and the curse words udder ed in the heat of the game, shame on you Brandon.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    Dec. 15, 2012 12:28 a.m.

    James Lark could be the LAST QB to win a bowl game in college football on the 20th. The next day, Dec. 21 the world ends... Or Riley could be the last QB to lose one.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Dec. 14, 2012 10:38 p.m.

    @Elk Hair

    That is simply going to far. While I definately think Doman and Mendenhall made a massive mistake by sticking with Nelson claiming they owe Lark, or anyone else for that matter, and apology is just not correct.

    I am a football coach and the fact is coaches have to make decisions based on what we feel is best. Many times we are wrong, completely wrong, and choose the wrong player, or the wrong play, or whatever. But that does not mean they owe anyone else an apology for doing so.

    I think the criticism of them both is fair, I've been criticizing them for this as well, but calling for apologies is to much. Remember this is their jobs and they will be called out for thier results. If their results a bad enough they will lose their jobs. I'm guessing neither of them wants to be unemployed so they probably made decisions they though were best.

    In sports there are always going to be starters and no nstarters and coaches making those decisions. We can second guess them but calling them out to apologize is going to far.

  • Elk Hair Caddis Sandy, UT
    Dec. 14, 2012 9:10 p.m.

    Lark is told he is one snap from starting after working for 4 years for the opportunity.

    When the "one snap" happens (Riley is injured), the same coaching staff that told him he was one snap away decide to go with a freshman (that had originally chosen Stanford over BYU).

    Go figure. Where is the Loyalty, Integrity, and Decency in that? Who cares if he stinks (which he obviously does not) at that point in this season he deserved a shot.

    As a BYU fan I think Lark deserves something decent, an apology.

  • LindonMan Lindon, UT
    Dec. 14, 2012 8:50 p.m.

    Lark! Lark! Lark!

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    Dec. 14, 2012 7:26 p.m.

    Doman pleased? Sounds strange. After all, it's all about Riley. Riley cannot play poorly enough to be benched.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Dec. 14, 2012 7:23 p.m.

    Tremendous young man, a giant of a man. I too am so happy for him.

    One of life's lessons he's probably learned is that God can turn all things to our good if we will let Him. I hope I get to hear that part of his story, when everything snaps into focus and it suddenly all makes sense.

    Maybe this week.

  • CA. reader Rocklin, CA
    Dec. 14, 2012 7:16 p.m.

    Irony would be an NFL team taking a flyer on James Lark and having him carve out a career for himself. I think he has talent and the NFL is willing to give talent a try. I just hope it isn't the Raiders.