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Monson: BYU doing the right thing the wrong way

Published January 3, 2011 2:34 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

So let's see if we've got this straight.

BYU claims no offensive assistant football coaches have been "released," which is simply a nice way of saying "fired," despite reports citing well-placed sources who have said those coaches have been given a strong message to actively and aggressively seek job opportunities outside the Cougar program, all as Bronco Mendenhall is unavailable for comment, vacationing as he is in Mexico.

And Mendenhall wonders why people sometimes accuse him of being … how should we say it? Duplicitous? Disingenuous? Dishonest?

Choose your own word.

As has been the case more than once before, Mendenhall is doing the right thing here … the wrong way.

Throwing a blanket like that over all of his offensive guys, telling them to ask for jobs elsewhere, does not, at least in any practical sense, protect the ones who are goners. Instead, it makes everybody look and feel worse.

Coordinator Robert Anae should be "released," which is a nicer way of saying "bounced" or "shown the door." There have been too many mistakes made by the leader of the Cougar offense, including a stubborn streak that tore the heart out of some of his players, the dumb idea at the start of the season to play two quarterbacks, quarterbacks with completely different skill sets that required vast adjustments to be made by every other offensive player, depending upon who was lining up behind center, and a plethora of curious play-calls that cost BYU games.

Even some of Anae's fellow staff members were flabbergasted, from time to time, by his bullheaded demeanor, his inexorable attitude, and his erratic play-calling.

He's a smart and decent man, a rare coach with a Ph.D., but a substantially flawed coordinator. BYU can do better, and Mendenhall knows this, has known it for a long time. He finally got the green light from superiors who hired Anae just as Mendenhall ascended to the head-coaching job, to move on the matter.

Or as BYU is now spinning it, to encourage the good doctor of philosophy to look for a job somewhere on the outside because the head coach wouldn't want to come right out and, you know, fire him.

We all get that the best way to attain a job elsewhere is to already have one where you're at. And we also get that it may sound better for a fired assistant to say you are evaluating him, and then not rehiring him, than it does to say you're unloading him like garbage on the curb.

But that is, of course, what's going on here.

You know it.

I know it.

The head coach knows it.

The yet-to-be-fired assistant knows it.

And any prospective head coach who would consider hiring the fired assistant knows it, too.

What kind of game of semantics are we playing here?

Meeting with all the offensive assistants and telling them to look for an opportunity at some other place and, then, rehiring the guys you wanted to keep and dumping the ones you didn't want to keep all along?

Tidying up the grass around a cesspool makes it smell no sweeter.

Quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman, whom Mendenhall recently called the best quarterbacks coach in the country, was told some time back there would come a day when he would be the man calling the plays, running the BYU offense, and it looks like that day has arrived. He stays.

Running backs and assistant head coach Lance Reynolds is too valuable an asset, a longtime lieutenant who has engendered too much respect from coaches and players, past and present, to send packing. He stays.

Everybody else, especially Anae and receivers coach Patrick Higgins, had best hope somebody, somewhere out there, was either sorely impressed with their work at BYU or sorely unimpressed with the work of one of their own staff members. Offensive line coach Mark Weber appears to be dangling in the breeze, able to fall in either direction.

Who knows, maybe any or all of them could fall in either direction.

It's the dangling, under the muddled cover of evaluation and possible rehiring, that's the problem here. Dressing up a firing or firings, coming now or later, is bad form, and, in some ways, makes the dangler look even more desperate.

If Mendenhall's going to fire somebody, fire him.

If he's going to release somebody, release him.

Don't head off to Mexico and evaluate after telling guys to look around, and then rehire somebody you never released or fired, and release or fire somebody you left in the lurch. All as rumors about possible replacements, such as Ben Cahoon and Ty Detmer, swirl around the dead or dying like buzzards in the sky.

Just say goodbye, with honor, to Anae and Higgins, and be done with it.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 The Zone. He can be reached at gmonson@sltrib.com. —

BYU blog Detmer hasn't talked to Y. about coaching job

V When some media members mentioned that former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer is being looked at to step in as quarterbacks coach, I got an e-mail from a member of Detmer's family who said "that information is incorrect." The family member said he spoke to Detmer on Monday night and that Detmer told him he has not spoken to anyone from BYU, and has not applied for a job there recently.

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