Over the last few months, there has been a lot of talk and debate about Brigham Young Cougars head football coach Bronco Mendenhall. Should he be BYU's coach next year, the year after? Would he be a good candidate for the Michigan job? Nebraska? An opening at his alma mater Oregon State has just opened up, and Mendenhall was quickly listed as a candidate.
With all this speculation and opining about
Mendenhall's future swirling, I have given some though to it and wonder
if the best move for him would be to the NFL.
Over the last 10 seasons while he has been the head coach at BYU, Mendenhall has frequently, and openly, discussed his future.
Would he stay at BYU as long as LaVell Edwards?
Would he take another head coaching job at a Power 5 Conference school?
and probably not have been his answers to these two questions. If he
takes another head coaching job it would be at a school that offers
something unique; in other words, has a greater mission, like one of the
Mendenhall has also gone as far as to say
when he is finally done coaching he would like to work in a capacity of
an educator. Kind of like how he has the opportunity as a coach to
mentor his players.
A few years ago, Mendenhall made some waves by sharing the statistics from an NFL report that revealed 70
percent of players who played at least three years in the league ended
up bankrupt, divorced, substance abusers, or disabled.
reason number one why a job as an NFL assistant coach might make a lot
of sense for Mendenhall. It would put him in a prime position to mentor a
group of people who have been identified as "at risk." With his long
history in football, he will be able to relate to them pretty well. He
can help them prepare for the future while still playing and keep an
open door for them even after they are gone.
BYU is well known
for having a "more mature" team. A majority of players have spent two
years post high school out in the real world as missionaries learning
about new cultures, the real struggles of life that families face, and
working to spread hope and happiness through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many of them marry within a year or two after returning from these
missions and start having children while still playing for the Cougars.
college football coaches struggle to make the transition from college
to the NFL ranks because they aren't used to coaching players who are
older and have moved on to the family rearing stage of life. Having
dealt with the team composition he has at BYU, Mendenhall would probably
make the transition well. He would know how to earn the players' trust
and treat them like the men that they are.
The second major reason Mendenhall may be better suited for the NFL is how his teams perform on the field.
the center of the debate whether Mendenhall should stay at BYU is the
slow start his teams have almost every season. Beginning a season with a
1-2 record has happened more often than not. In college football, it is
important that teams start the season near peak level. To gain national
respect and be in contention for a championship, teams have to play at a
high level from September to December.
As BYU suffers early
season losses, Mendenhall has to resort to rhetoric of "working to reach
our full potential" as a way to keep the team focused and fans
interested. Let me say it again, in college football, teams need to
enter the season at or near their full potential if they are going to be
one of the nation's best. Mendenhall has not been able to do that, but,
to his credit, he does get them to play to their full potential by
season's end. The NFL model is much better suited for coaches like this.
way the NFL is set up, it is the teams that are playing the best at the
end of the season that have the best shot at winning the Super Bowl. In
the last decade, several Wild Card teams have made their way to the the
Super Bowl and even won. Those Wild Card teams usually finished the
season playing their best football of the season. Getting to the
playoffs has been more important in recent years than regular season
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