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Cougar Kickoff Countdown: 39 Days

Gayland Mills played from 1939-1942 and then again after the war in 1946. He earned the moniker "Iron Mike" on the gridiron.

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Gene Sweeney Jr.

Coaches like their players to have some mean to them. Just this past spring after two separate fights broke out during the second day of spring ball Coach Mendenhall told the press after, "I like it (when) neither side will back down." Things were pretty much the same in the old leather head days.

Taken from What it Means to be a Cougar: Iron Mike played end for the freshman squad in '39. He was supposed to block Garth Chamberlain in practice, a defensive tackle who liked to play dirty. The ball was snapped and before he could make his block Chamberlain punched him in the head so hard that he saw stars.

On his way back to the huddle one of the coaches hollered,

"Are you going to stand for that, Mills? Give him more of the same."

Iron Mike was a quick learner and this time when the ball was snapped he head faked Chamberlain. Then,

"I caught him with an uppercut that sent him reeling. He got to his feet, and we got in a few licks before the team members separated us."

Iron Mike described the rest,

"The coach said, 'Okay, I like the fighting spirit, but no fist-fighting between the players.' So after practice, Garth and I were to meet in the men's gymnasium and put on the boxing gloves. He and I fought for 30 minutes. We finally got so tired of pounding each other that we fell into a clinch laughing. From then on we were the best of friends throughout life."

The defense at BYU has been the more aggressive part of the team the last several years, but the fights this last spring were reportedly instigated by the offense. That bodes well for BYU this fall. The offensive line blocked well for the running game but not so much for the passing game. A little more nasty in the trenches, like Mills and Chamberlain, will go a long way for the Cougars this fall.