BYU football: Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall emphasizes winning bowl games

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  • I-am-I South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 30, 2013 11:40 a.m.


    I made no comment on whether they played in the tier of bowl they "deserved" (whatever "deserves" means relevant to the BCS and its very "objective" way of choosing national championships).

    What I was saying is that BYU under performs. They have better athletes, facilities, and resources than the "Hungry Bowl" (and by the way that was the lamest bowl game I have ever seen. Seriously only one sideline.) and yes it is shameful. Under performing has been Bronco's secret to bowl success. Now go pretend like Utah's super inconsistent play over the last several years puts them in another league of awesomeness. Truthfully both of these programs are way to high on themselves. Neither one has done much lately. If Utahn's should be proud of any their programs it's USU. They have done some really special things as of late.

  • Duckhunter SLC, UT
    Dec. 24, 2013 3:46 p.m.


    I haven't gone anywhere?

  • skywalker Palo Alto, CA
    Dec. 23, 2013 6:01 p.m.

    Fight Hunger Bowl Exec Dir Gary Cavalli:

    "Within 5 min of (BYU independence) announcement, I called my old friend Tom Holmoe... and booked BYU on the spot."

  • 54-10 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 5:43 p.m.

    SLC, UT

    Welcome back from Tulsa. We missed you all last week after the 17 point stomping your basketball team endured.

    Good luck to Bronco and the Cougs in their bowl game.

  • Duckhunter SLC, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 5:16 p.m.

    @Ed Grady

    I'm with you man, not a whole lot of thought in some of those posts.

    @stringer ball

    Uh....that "worthless bowl game" you are refering to was the Holiday Bowl, a bowl Utah never even came close to making it to, and it was between 2 top 25 teams, BYU and Iowa, and featured a Heisman trophy winner and two of the most legendary coaches in college football history. You Utah "fans" display your ignorance over and over on these boards. LOL!

  • Duckhunter SLC, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 5:07 p.m.


    That was not his point, you completely missed it. They don't have to make the upper classmen or the starters or 2nd stringers practice all the practices if they want to heal them up, but why not use those extra 9 practices to give the young guys the practice reps they never get and won't get in spring? Why not have Billy Greene spend 9 practices getting 1st team reps? Why not have those young offensive linemen get 9 practices worth of reps? Why not have all those young guys do that?

    It is foolish of Mendenhall to squander that opportunity, one of many foolish things he does.

  • skywalker Palo Alto, CA
    Dec. 23, 2013 3:19 p.m.

    "I'm just tired of watching BYU losing two games in September simply because the team is not ready to compete."

    The Virginia game was an anomaly. Taysom was returning from a season-ending knee injury after only starting two games in his BYU career. That combined with a two-hour lightning delay, torrential rain, and a slick ball glancing off the hands of a receiver setting up Virginia for a gift game-winning touchdown. I blame Anae for that one.

    The main culprit in the Virginia and Utah losses was the offensive line, most of which wasn't even available for spring ball, let alone the previous bowl season.

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    Dec. 23, 2013 2:47 p.m.

    For the life of me I don't understand why some BYU fans think that winning this years bowl game and preparing for next Fall are mutually exclusive events. BYU can do both - use 6-9 practices for the underclassmen/reserves and 6 for the bowl game preparation. I'm just tired of watching BYU losing two games in September simply because the team is not ready to compete. I don't buy the excuses given for leaving 9 practices on the table.

  • CordonBleu Park City, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 2:43 p.m.


    "We've had our eyes on BYU for years." Fight Hunger Bowl director Gary Cavalli. He called Tom Holmoe the day BYU went independent.

    Similar things have been said by the directors of the Poinsettia Bowl and Las Vegas Bowl.

    When was the last time any bowl director expressed an interest in Utah playing in their bowl?

  • talkinsports Gilbert, AZ
    Dec. 23, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    Ed Grady

    I'd rather see BYU win their bowl game, than worry about preparing for next season. As DeepBlue said, there's plenty of time to prepare next year's team for next year. Some of the starters for next season won't even be joining/re-joining the team until spring or fall practice.

  • talkinsports Gilbert, AZ
    Dec. 23, 2013 1:51 p.m.

    Y Grad / Y Dad

    The two main reasons why LaVell's bowl record isn't nearly as good as Bronco's:

    1st and foremost - LaVell's teams played much more difficult opponents. 15 of LaVell's 22 bowl opponents were ranked in the Top 25, including 10 in the Top 15.

    2nd - BYU didn't have an indoor practice facility during the LaVell Edwards era. I remember BYU practicing for bowl games in the cramped confines of the Smith Fieldhouse where there simply wasn't enough space to run proper passing routes. It's hard to keep a high octane passing attack sharp when you can't even practice your complete offensive package.

    Bronco's team destroyed then #16 Oregon State, but Bronco has only faced one bowl team that finished in the Top 25, #25/#25 California in his first season. That said, 6 of Bronco's 8 bowl opponents did finish in Sagarin's Top 35, so Bronco has beaten some good bowl opponents.

  • Rose Bowl call yet? Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 1:36 p.m.


    "Utah is a member of a conference and has access to any bowl affiliated with it. I know many Utah fans and not a single one is jealous of BYU in any regard."

    Utah has no access to any bowl regardless of conference affiliation because the Utes aren't good enough to qualify for a bowl.

    Don't kid yourself.

    Utah fans are insanely jealous that the Cougars will be playing in their 9th straight bowl, while the Utes are left on the outside looking in at the bowls for the 2nd straight year.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Dec. 23, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    Stringer Bell
    Henderson, NV

    "He's referring to the "1" and the fact that someone played for a tie in a worthless bowl game."

    And that "1" happened in the Lavel era, and the bowls weren't worthless. Back in the day when Utah actually went to bowl games, most of them were of the "worthless" variety.

    For the longest time, Lavel took teams to bowl games; Utah didn't go. Is that what made them worthless?

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    Dec. 23, 2013 1:18 p.m.

    Re DeepBlue:

    If you're happy with not giving underclassmen/reserves the extra reps they would get with 9 practices, then more to power to ya. However, don't act surprised when BYU loses horrible early games ala Virginia and enters the month of October with two losses - again. To focus only on the bowl game is very shortsided. The starters don't need the reps, but this years reserves that will be next years starters need those reps. I don't understand why this so hard to understand.

  • red.diehard Central, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 12:36 p.m.


    Utah is a member of a conference and has access to any bowl affiliated with it. I know many Utah fans and not a single one is jealous of BYU in any regard.

  • dww722 North Salt Lake, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    So now the emphasis is on winning the Mediocre Bowl?? What about emphasizing winning your opener....Or beating your mediocre rival...or playing with passion and heart in the biggest games on your schedule when something is on the line (Wisconsin, Notre Dame). Bronco has taken BYU football to a new level alright. Unfortunately, It seems mediocre has become acceptable to the fans at BYU because they've been fed a line that says the honor code limits getting top notch athletes. That's a bunch of hogwash. If I recall we won a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP and had several other top notch seasons with the honor code in place. The problem is coaching pure and simple. Until we see through that you can count on seeing the same mediocrity year after year which is fine if that's all you care about.

  • Stringer Bell Henderson, NV
    Dec. 23, 2013 12:10 p.m.

    G-Day etc.

    "Your comment makes no sense regarding this article. 7-15-1 was BYU's bowl record prior to Bronco Mendenhall.

    Since Bronco Mendenhall BYU's bowl record is 6-2."

    He's referring to the "1" and the fact that someone played for a tie in a worthless bowl game.

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 11:20 a.m.


    BYU solidified their 1984 NC by beating Michigan in the Holiday Bowl.

    BYU won their NC by winning 24 straight games, by finishing in the Top 7 in back-to-back seasons and in the Top 12 in 5 of 6 seasons from 1979 to 1984 to develop the kind of national cachet required to convince the majority of coaches and sportswriters that BYU was the most deserving team to be selected the Major College Football National Champion for 1984.

    The proof of those statements is displayed proudly in BYU's Legacy Hall of Fame.

    btw, what evidence do you have that "the Church would probably like to just do away with all sports in general if they really could"?

    The fact that General Authorities often attend BYU football and basketball games directly contradicts your assertion that the Church would probably like to just do away with BYU sports.

    If/when BYU wins it's next football or basketball national championship, you can be assured that there will be numerous positive comments and publicity from and about the Church.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    Dec. 23, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    A lot of you guys are well versed in changing the expectations so that you can delight in BYU's failure to do something that wasn't part of the original discussion.

    Does BYU, and Bronco, aspire to compete for and win a national championship? Yes.

    Would it be better if they didn't say that out loud? I don't think so, but many of the ankle-biters seem to.

    Did BYU declare independence to make piles of money, or somehow find a magical hidden path to the BCS, or to keep up with Utah? No, no and no..

    Did BYU declare independence because it was the only option available that was better than staying in the MWC? Yes.

    Does Bronco's plan result in bowl success? Well, duh.

    Does BYU wish it were in better bowls? Well, yes, but this year, we seem to be about where we deserve.

    Would his plan work against better bowl competition? Right now I just hope it works against Washington.

    Might next year's weaker schedule result in a better bowl? Maybe so. Let's just worry about Washington for now.

  • TroyTown Anaheim, CA
    Dec. 23, 2013 10:45 a.m.


    Utah plays in the bowl tier that they deserve, and that is by contract.

    A team that isn't good enough to win at least half their games, doesn't deserve to be playing in a bowl.

    Don't kid yourself. Jealous Utah fans like you would give their eye teeth to be playing in the Hunger Bowl.

  • DeepBlue Anaheim, CA
    Dec. 23, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    Ed Grady

    Did you bother reading the article?

    "It’s giving our guys time off, getting them fresh again, getting them back in the weight room so they can get their strength and conditioning back," said outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga, who also played in a couple of bowl victories as a Cougar. "Really, it’s just time off. I think a lot of people on the outside complain about that. But we use it to our advantage, getting guys fresh and healthy again."

    There will be plenty of time next spring, summer and fall to get ready for next year. Dozens of players who will be playing next year are still in high school or on missions.

    I'd much rather have a healthy, well-conditioned, well-motivated team ready for the bowl game. Bronco is 6-2 in bowls, with the 2 losses by 10 points or less. Why mess with a formula that's working?

  • WhatsInItForMe Orem, Utah
    Dec. 23, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    CougarColby, et al

    BYU's NC win vs Michigan was valid, so quit dissing it. Michigan's record might have been mediocre, but the team BYU played wasn't.

    ALL of Michigan's losses that year were when their big running back was out with injury. He wasn't when they played BYU. They won all the games when he played, except for BYU.

    All of the pollsters that voted BYU the champ knew that, else they wouldn't have voted that way.

    And keep in mind that BYU did it with a QB limping on an injured leg.

    As far as a future NC, BYU will be in the mix as time goes on and they continue to get BCS-quality teams on their schedule. It's just a matter of winning, and that's not out of the question. Could even happen with Hill & Williams. They're quite the one-two punch. Just young and inexperienced as yet.

    Also, with the new scheme, 4 teams have a chance at it in the near future, not just 2. That helps with the odds of being there.

  • Ed Grady Idaho Falls, ID
    Dec. 23, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    I'd like to see BYU use the bowl game as an opportunity to get ready for the next year as well as win the bowl game itself. To waste 9 practices bugs me.

  • Thefullnancy SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 10:04 a.m.


    Utah 10th choice of the PAC12. Lost to Washington. Not invited to bowl, but did win their traditional yearly "bowl" game against BYU. No BYU for next 2 years so likely no bowl game. End of story.

  • kfinlco orem, ut
    Dec. 23, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    Maybe Bronco should put more "emphasis" on the Utah game so we could finally beat them.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    Alls I know is there is know better bowl game coach and program in America.

  • plyxply SLC, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    meanwhile the Utes continue to lift weights and cheer for their basketball team.

  • Crow Sandy , UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    Maybe Breonco should emphasize beating the BCS competition they play each year. Their next year schedule should get them double digit wins which will satisfy a lot of BYU fans who do not wish to play tough competition week in week out.

  • CougarColby Fort Benning, GA
    Dec. 23, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    Selling independence as a path to a National Championship is exactly that, "selling". That was not the intent when it the decision was made, but Tom Holmoe and coach Mendenhall needed to sell something to the fans. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints wants the football team as a missionary tool. Play all over the country, produce some good stories and be at least better than average. I think the Church would probably like to just do away with all sports in general if they really could, but there are positive benefits of having sports and teams.

    BYU is not and won't be a NC caliber team, probably ever. Even the '84 team, which was a great season, was probably not the best team in the country. The opening win against Pitt that year ended up not being that great due to the season Pitt had, and the win over Michigan was against an average Michigan team. It was a lucky season with no real BCS or playoff system. I think something similar to that would have to happen for BYU to even get a sniff at a NC game in this day and age.

  • red.diehard Central, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    @I am I

    BYU plays in the bowl tier that they deserve, and that is by contract. The only option for BYU is the Hungry Bowl (yep I know the real title but if I was a fan this is what I would be, hungry for more and better) which is a step down from where they played as Mt West Champion. The 6th choice of the PAC12?. Is this what BYU football really is, 6th choice caliber?

    Maybe if there was more realism during the off season, no more Natl Championship hype from the program itself, expectations would become more aligned with the reality of the physical universe in which we all live.

  • G-Day-M8 WVC, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 7:48 a.m.


    Your comment makes no sense regarding this article. 7-15-1 was BYU's bowl record prior to Bronco Mendenhall.

    Since Bronco Mendenhall BYU's bowl record is 6-2.

  • CougarSunDevil Phoenix, AZ
    Dec. 23, 2013 7:45 a.m.

    Mendenhall should have emphasized winning in the regular season more.

  • I-am-I South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 6:06 a.m.

    I think Florida Boy has the right general idea. Bronco Mendenhall's key to bowl success has been underachieving. BYU simply doesn't play in the tier or bowls they could or maybe even ought to. BYU's move to independence was sold as a way to make them a legitimate national championship contender, what it really has been is a way to maximize money and exposure while minimizing the need for success. I still follow BYU's program, but not very passionately these days. The truth is that the powers that be don't seem to think that putting together a top 15 football team year in and year out is important. My love for great football outweighed my loyalties to one program.

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 23, 2013 1:44 a.m.

    We can always dance around and hypothesize about where BYU is lacking, but we need to remember that these are young men playing a game they love. That is what it boils down to. Having major football success could be a curse for BYU. Look at Johnny Manziel. Look at that Winston guy at FSU. The spotlight is bright and garish. And it brings out the worst in programs and players. Let the boys play. Watch if you want. Whine if you want. But either way, BYU will do what it deems best.

  • JapanCougar Apo, AP
    Dec. 23, 2013 1:35 a.m.

    Florida Boy,

    Although we'd all like to think that teams have gotten stronger or weaker, for the most part, teams today are about as strong or as weak as they were 20 years ago. BYU has never had top recruiting classes and they probably never will. BYU's glass ceiling is in part a reflection of the honor code, their church affiliation, and their priorities. Unless those change, the glass ceiling remains. Take your pot shots, if you will, but BYU is more than just a football team with an academic wing (although I believe that a few universities in the US fit that bill).

    BYU's goal will remain to do more with less, to maximize their potential and to be a University with good athletic programs attached. They will occasionally have some top 10 years, but not as consistently as the teams that put football #1.

  • SoonerUte Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 22, 2013 10:05 p.m.

    Florida Boy - "play a schedule that would assure them an opportunity to secure an outside chance at landing a BCA bid."
    If that was the goal, they did it wrong. They schedule was too tough. This year, to achieve your #3 (BCS) they needed to ditch all but 2 schools from the big 5 conferences, and maybe beat only one of those.

    The UCF Knights which are headed to the Fiesta Bowl on this schedule:
    Wins against Akron, FIU, Penn State, Memphis, Louisville, Connecticut, Houston, Temple, Rutgers, USF, SMU. One loss against South Carolina Gamecocks. The Cougars could have maybe run that table as well as UCF.

    If BCS was the goal, the Cougars should have dropped Virginia, Texas, Utah, and Georgia Tech in favor of lighter competition. They're playing for that "best of the mid-majors" spot, not a "one of the big boys" slot.

  • TJ Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 22, 2013 9:21 p.m.

    Florida Boy
    You have the reasons mixed up. #1 is for exposure. A distant second is the money. The money is nice but not anywhere near as important to BYU as the exposure. BYU already has great facilities and operates well into the black financially.

  • Florida Boy Melbourne/USA, FL
    Dec. 22, 2013 8:57 p.m.

    BYU became an independent in football in order to provide themselves an opportunity to; (1) make more money through an ESPN contract. (2) Allow themselves national coverage through their own BYU network; and to play a schedule that would assure them an opportunity to secure an outside chance at landing a BCA bid.

    As an Independent, BYU has played a rather tame schedule, and in doing so, has not performed up to the expectations set forth prior to the '13 season. Beating cream-puffs, and manhandling D1 schools in their down years is never enough to attract positive national attention to their program. Winning 7 games against a weak schedule will only get them an opportunity to play other low achieving teams. Is this all this team aspires to? BYU seems to be pretty comfortable playing in 3rd Tier bowl games - playing before New Years on a yearly basis.

    BYU football is mired in mediocrity, and will never get over that hump until they can successfuly recruit blue-chip players. Unfortunately, most blue-chip players have their sights set on programs who have an opportunity to play in a major conference with an automatic bid to the big dances.

  • jsteve Herriman, UT
    Dec. 22, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    7-15-1? Whoever thought that a tie was an okay end for a postseason?