I am not a great wordsmith, but there is a point where media members who are great writers seem to lower themselves to stirring the pot of controversy.
Bronco Mendenhall in his weekly press conference was asked if he is surprised about the criticism Max Hall has received for his turnovers. In response Bronco said the following:
“I would have been surprised maybe in my first year as the coach, at BYU maybe the second, but at this point the visibility of the program with the expectations I think it will always be here. For the people in the most visible positions: Head coach, quarterback, corner, offensive tackle, something like that; the positions which give up or could be criticized easily by a normal person, just by visibility, not necessarily a great fan, in terms of education and understanding the broader scheme of things, but if you're just to look out and say, where are the mistakes, the level of criticism usually matches the level of education and the fans, the people it comes from. So, I've learned not to take it personal, and I've tried to help Max do the same. And I think it will always be the case at BYU because of the visibility of the program.”
Bronco gave the quote in response to a question about why people are so critical of Max Hall. A football fan being critical of their quarterback isn’t a new topic; in fact I wrote about BYU fans being overly critical of their own quarterback this season, less than two weeks ago (“BYU Fans Need to Stop Blaming Max Hall”).
Yet, many members of the media are claiming that Bronco has insulted his own fan base. They claim he has gone too far, and he must now apologize to the BYU fans.
Salt Lake Tribune writer and 1280 The Zone radio host Gordon Monson, has gone so far as to write an article headlined, “Mendenhall owes BYU fans an apology.” He claims in his article that Bronco attacked the football intelligence of BYU fans.
While Monson makes his point in his usual way--he is just trying to stir the pot of controversy. He is just trying to make a story out of nothing.
In Bronco’s quote does he say the words, “BYU fans?” No.
Does Bronco talk about the lack of education in general among fans? Nope.
Now do some BYU fans fall under the umbrella of uneducated football fans? Absolutely, Yes!
A person attending a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium couldn’t throw a rock without it bouncing off two fans who know nothing about football. These bandwagon jumping, know-nothing fans seems to be everywhere in BYU football crowds; however, the same ratio of educated-to-non-educated fans exist in most any school’s college football crowd.
Bronco claims that the level of criticism a person gives about football is equal to the level of football education that person has. Is that true? Yes.
Bronco is simply stating a fact. It is a principle which exists in any field. A pianist could play a difficult concerto and make some minor mistakes, but a normal person often would be unable to tell. A normal person would think the performance quite outstanding, a person with little to no piano playing experience. A master pianist would have a different opinion of the performance. A master pianist would hear the mistakes, and would judge the piece by a different standard.
Now if the pianist made a major mistake, all the people listening would be able to tell that a mistake occurred. Yet, who would the pianist seek out for advice in order to fix their mistake? The novice listener or the Piano master?
Apply that same principle back to BYU football. Mistakes are occurring on the field, and the ball is being turned over. Max Hall is leading the nation in interceptions. Who is Bronco going to listen to in order to correct the problem? The average fan who has little understanding of the overall scheme of a college football offense or people with much higher football IQs?
The biggest mistake Bronco made, unknowingly or not in his statement, was insulting the bulk of media members. Bronco was not talking about just BYU fans in his statement; he was talking about all football fans. Whose job is it to throw out the most criticism about his job and Max Hall’s performance? Media members.
The bulk of media members, like me, have never played a single down of college football. The football education most media members have is quite limited. Usually the football education of an average media member is what they learned from high school football, watching football on TV, and playing football video games.
Media members will just look at numbers and try to assign meaning. Max Hall is leading the country in interceptions; therefore, Max Hall is playing poorly.
Most media members will not take a look at the bigger picture of why things occur on the field. Sadly, most media members, including myself, couldn’t explain exactly why everything occurs on the field in most college football. Why do you think media members are always asking for explanations from players and coaches?
Should I feel bad that a head football coach isn’t listening to my opinions and changing his game plan accordingly? No. I accept that a head football coach of a Division–I school knows more about football than I do.
Does this mean I don’t know anything about football or sports? No, although many seem to disagree. Fans can see things on the field and can figure out why things are occurring. There are times when fans can get to the bottom of a problem better than a coach. This is “The Emperor’s New Clothes” scenario, where the solution to a problem is really simple; however, the coaching staff is too prideful to make any changes.
Has BYU reached that point with Max Hall? Not even close.
Those football fans, whether BYU fans or not, who are calling for Hall’s benching due to interceptions are really just showing their lack of football knowledge. Not only are these fans not seeing the value of Max Hall, but they do not understand what a step down it is to Riley Nelson talent wise.
Being a head football coach requires having a tough skin to deal with all of your detractors. The same goes for being a quarterback at a university which is known for quarterbacking. Bronco and Max, do not take the criticism personally (which doesn’t necessarily mean they just ignore the criticism), and move forward trying to prove themselves on the field.
So, I must respectfully disagree with Gordon Monson. Not only do I not think Bronco should apologize for his comments in this week’s press conference, but I would think less of Coach Mendenhall if he were to even think about apologizing.