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The Case Against Bronco Mendenhall

EDITOR'S NOTE: A few days ago, we posted a story speculating that a portion of BYU fans were upset with head coach Bronco Mendenhall. We now give you the commander of these rabble rousers, Adam Olsen, a true Amalickiah of his day, to wave his banner to Cougar Nation. His thoughts are definitely worthy of consideration.

Wow. I am humbled and flattered to have the kind of Twitter clout to warrant a shout out from Zach, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to present my side of the story. Yeah, that's right. I'm @aolsen. I'm the guy who had the stones to criticize Bronco Mendenhall, despite his fifth 10-win season out of the last six.

Let me begin by saying I like Bronco Mendenhall a lot. As a BYU fan I owe him big time for bringing the BYU name back from what might have been the darkest period in program history. He was the perfect hire at the time. He restored honor, reconnected with tradition and was never lost sight of the spirit and mission of BYU.

(Can you tell I've been drinking the Kool-aid?)

Not only that, he's a winner. He wins a lot of games, as evidenced by the aforementioned stockpiling of 10+ win seasons. I'm grateful for that. But while I appreciate the wins, I'm not blinded by them.

Take this season: 10 wins, three losses. To me the three losses are much, much more significant than the 10 wins. And it's because those three losses happened to be the three biggest games on our schedule: Texas, Utah and TCU. Bronco and the Cougars were tested three times this season, and we failed each test.

I give Bronco credit for beating Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl, and barely beating a bowl-bound Utah State on our home field, but that's about it. The rest of the schedule was softer than a Christmas cheese ball. So when you say he wins games, I agree. But the problem is he doesn't win the games that matter.

And if it was just this season, I wouldn't mind one bit. But underperforming in big games is something that has followed every Bronco Mendenhall team since he took over.

TCU, Utah, Florida State, Air Force, Arizona - these are all teams that have beaten us badly in recent years, and by Bronco's own admission the Cougars were woefully unprepared for each game. That is unacceptable to me. How can we be unprepared to face a TCU team that beats us like a drum on a yearly basis? What about Utah, the biggest game of the year? And how does a mediocre Florida State team come into our building and completely embarrass us in our 2009 home opener?

The reason is Bronco Mendenhall. He is either unable or unwilling to acknowledge that certain games are more important than others, and our team preparation suffers as a result. Our opponents want to beat us. Badly. They're on a collision course with BYU at a bullet train's pace. We need to match that intensity, and Bronco chooses not to do it.

Contrast Bronco with TCU coach Gary Patterson. We all know Gary. He's the guy who screams at his players like a pre-menstrual banshee, hikes up his pants every half second and employs a "sweat towel girl" to follow him around full-time. We love to make fun of the guy, but the truth is he is an incredible football coach. He knows how to build teams, evaluate talent and prepare his athletes for big games.

TCU has become an automatic loss for BYU. Even for our most talented teams. And it's because of Gary Patterson. He will not lose to BYU, and he will make sure his teams are prepared.

I could say the same for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. Even when BYU supposedly has more talent, Kyle will make sure every game is competitive (that is... unless the Utes are beating us by 44 points).

BYU fans need to ask themselves a question: Are we satisfied with the current state of the football team? In other words, are you satisfied with beating 10 bad teams and losing to three good ones every year? If you are, then bless your heart. Forget I even exist.

If you're like me, though, and believe BYU can achieve something more (namely, a BCS berth or even a National Championship), you cannot be satisfied with 10-3 seasons. We either need a new coach, or we need Bronco to adopt a new philosophy.

We need a coach who can correctly develop and evaluate talent, one who holds coaches and players accountable for poor performance, one who acknowledges that some games are more important than others (and prepares the team accordingly), and one who can make in-game adjustments and corrections.

Bronco is a great guy. But he is not above criticism. And he is certainly not perfect. He's done all he can do, but if BYU is ever to get to that next level I'm afraid we need someone else.

Adam blogs on his personal sports site Adams Sports Blog and podcasts at Death Star D