Henderson, Nev. » Having spent a couple of weeks vacationing and surfing in Kauai, Haw., and La Jolla, Calif., this summer, BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall looked tanned and rested at the Mountain West Conference football media gathering on Tuesday.
When the season starts, he is going to take another break -- from play calling.
Mendenhall said he has turned over the defensive play-calling duties -- which he has handled since becoming the head coach four years ago -- to defensive coordinator Jaime Hill .
"I will probably take more of a consultant role," Mendenhall said. "I will still reserve the right to call a [defensive] play when I want to call a play at a critical moment, a key third down. But most likely, I will continue to work more toward managing the entire game."
Mendenhall said the announcement should not be seen as "big news" because "it has been a work in progress and a gradual shifting over the last few years. I have involved our assistants at a lot higher level than many would know or acknowledge."
To the wire
Mendenhall said that running back Manase Tonga , who was academically ineligible in 2008, is not quite eligible to play this season. Tonga needs to get grades of B-minus or better in two classes he is taking this summer at BYU to be eligible.
Because the semester ends after fall camp begins, he won't participate in at least the first week of fall camp.
Neal can practice
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said sophomore linebacker Mo Neal , who has a pre-trial hearing set for Sept. 8 for his involvement in a bar fight in June, will be allowed to practice with the team but won't be allowed to participate in any games until his case is resolved.
Neal, who was charged with three misdemeanors, could miss the Sept. 3 opener against Utah State.
"There is a chance it could be resolved before then, from what we've been told," Whittingham said.
The 6-foot-2, 221-pound sophomore is projected to be the backup at middle linebacker in 2009 behind senior Mike Wright .
Damilyn Tanner , a senior defensive back who played in 11 games in 2008, is no longer with the team after failing to make academic progress.
For the third time since 2006, TCU has been picked to win the Mountain West Conference football title in a poll of media members who cover the league. BYU is picked second, while defending MWC champion Utah is picked third.
Once again, BYU quarterback Max Hall is the MWC preseason Offensive Player of the Year. TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes is the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Give me five
BYU and Utah both have five players on the preseason all-MWC team. Joining Hall from BYU are running back Harvey Unga , tight end Dennis Pitta , defensive end Jan Jorgensen and kicker Mitch Payne .
Utah's selections are running back Matt Asiata , offensive lineman Zane Beadles , defensive lineman Koa Misi , linebacker Stevenson Sylvester and defensive back Robert Johnson .
TCU has the most players on the team, seven.
Thompson to stay
The Mountain West Conference Board of Directors announced that MWC commissioner Craig Thompson has agreed to a contract extension through June 30, 2012.
Mountain West Conference poll. First-place votes in parentheses:
1. TCU (15)
2. BYU (6)
3. Utah (3)
4. Air Force
6. Colorado State
7. New Mexico
8. San Diego State