I am a Bronco apologist.
Whatever that means. You won’t hear me calling for Bronco to get canned. I have yet to use the hashtag #FireBronco unironically, and I probably won’t. I also don’t get fired up when he calls out players or fans. If that’s what it means to be a "Bronco apologist," then I guess that’s what I am.
Do I think that Coach Mendenhall is without fault? No.
But mostly, I don’t get worked up about anything he says (or doesn’t say) mostly because I don’t care.
Back in 2008, I was in my second year of college at BYU and very comfortable on the Bronco bandwagon. I fully supported the missions and aims of the football program as laid out by the coach. He wanted to take these boys and turn them into respectable men.
I loved it. As a 19-year-old girl aware of some of the less glamorous parts of college life—especially as covered by the media—and a die-hard football fan, I was all in.
I decided to attend all the home game firesides that season, passing up Friday night dates (or taking them with me), taking notes and basking in the program Bronco Mendenhall rebuilt.
Late in the season, the coach laid on some heavy criticism of BYU fans. He sounded like it was him against the fans, and I wanted him to know there was still a portion of the BYU fan base in his corner.
I’m not a crafty person in the slightest, but I am a doer. In the heat of the moment, I rushed to the store and bought materials to make a scrapbook documenting the firesides. In my mind, it was the only way to show how much I’d bought in to his vision for the program.
Making the scrapbook was difficult, especially since I’d never made one before. It was a labor of love, but I was determined to show Bronco Mendenhall how much I supported him.
The night before I sent the scrapbook to the football office, I heard another Mendenhall interview critical of the fans. Again, I was irate that he kept calling out the fans, so I included a two page handwritten note to the effect of "STOP CALLING FANS OUT WHEN SOME OF US ABSOLUTELY SUPPORT YOU."
I immediately regretted sending it.
It would probably go into the trash after the secretaries and any passersby mocked it. How would he even respond? LaVell Edwards sent me a nice long letter thanking me for my support once, but a 6-year-old’s letter is much more adorable than a 19-year-old’s letter and scrapbook.
Sure enough, I got a four line thank you letter that seemed less than fulfilling after I'd spent over 40 hours of time (during an 18 credit semester) working on this project, and that didn't include the time I'd spent watching football games. That same day I heard another interview with Bronco Mendenhall where he again implied he had no support from the fans.
What was I expecting? A nice long letter admitting he was wrong to call out the entire fan base? A personal apology for ignoring those who support him? Six years later, I still don’t know.
It was extremely clear was that he wasn’t listening to me, a "Bronco apologist."
I still like the direction of the program. I think Bronco Mendenhall has the toughest job in the country, and I think he's done a good job. I don't think he should be fired. And I still like Bronco Mendenhall as a person.
But when everyone got upset because Bronco Mendenhall said he learned something about "loyalty… or lack thereof," I laughed. I knew he wasn't talking about me, because he doesn’t care about me.