You could be forgiven if you didn't catch that Bob Medina recently left his role as strength and conditioning coach for the BYU basketball team. I know I certainly did.
There has been no press release. No official announcement. Medina's bio still appears on BYU's website, just as it has since he joined the program in 2013.
The only trace of confirmation regarding Medina's exit that you'll find (besides message board rumors) lies in a single somewhat-cryptic, month-old tweet from Kyle Chilton, the team's sports information director:
Was. Past tense, to be sure. But still somewhat vague. By itself, this wouldn't qualify as an iron-clad confirmation by any means.
Until now. Chilton confirmed to Vanquish The Foe on Tuesday that Medina has, indeed, left his position with the Cougars. He declined to comment on the reason for the strength coach's departure or his destination. No replacement has been selected, but Chilton said that more information on that front would be forthcoming "at some point" in the future.
While most may not lose much sleep over the loss of a strength and conditioning coach, particularly in any sport other than football, Medina's absence could be more significant for the Cougars than many realize.
In the three years since Medina arrived in Provo, BYU has benefited richly from the methods he gleaned in his more than 20 years with NBA teams. And that approach has translated to on-the-court success for individual players in a big way.
The most notable example is Kyle Collinsworth's incredible return from a significant season-ending ACL injury in the summer following his junior season. That's the kind of injury that can ruin a player's career if handled improperly. There was no way of knowing whether he would ever be the same again.
But with Medina's guidance and Collinsworth's determination, the pair were able to push through a grueling rehab period and bring the now-legendary Cougar point guard back stronger than ever before. The fact that Collinsworth finished his career second on BYU's all-time minutes played list — not to mention his NCAA-record six triple-doubles — should stand as a testament to Medina's work.
But it was more than just a one time thing. Medina has also shown a knack for handling one of BYU's most uniquely tricky situations: the challenge of getting returned missionaries back into playing shape — and fast. While the archetypal example of the ideal post-mission adjustment (Tyler Haws) predates Medina's tenure, he has played a role in at least two other high-profile Cougars (Collinsworth and Nick Emery) returning from two years away from the game to turn in uncharacteristically strong performances in their first season back.
This is where Medina's departure may be felt most immediately and most acutely. As BYU prepares to usher an unprecedented influx of talent into the program this offseason — including three returned missionaries and one high-profile high school recruit — they will have to do so without the steady hand that has helped perfect the process over the last several years.
Will guys like Eric Mika and TJ Haws be able to regain their previous form as quickly as their predecessors without Medina's guidance? Will Yoeli Childs adapt to the physicality of Division I basketball as seamlessly under the tutelage of a new strength guru?
These are questions that have no answers — yet. Only time (and results) will tell.
But regardless of how things shake out moving forward, it's clear that Cougar fans everywhere owe Bob Medina a big thank you for a job well done.