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BYU football: Coaches grew closer after Andersen left Utes
BYU football » The Cougars last played a Big Ten team since 1993.
First Published Nov 05 2013 01:57 pm • Last Updated Nov 06 2013 08:33 pm

Provo • It is no secret that BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham are not close friends and don’t have anything near the relationship that former BYU coach LaVell Edwards and former Utah coach Ron McBride have had since 1990.

However, there might be hope for Mendenhall and Whittingham down the road.

At a glance

BYU at Wisconsin

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. MT


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Mendenhall said Monday that he and Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen were friends before Andersen joined the Utah coaching staff in 1997 and became closer friends again once Andersen left the U. for the head job at Utah State.

BYU plays at Wisconsin on Saturday (1:30 p.m., ESPN), marking the 16th time in 17 years that Andersen will coach against the Cougars. He was 6-5 against BYU in two stints at Utah (1997 to 2002 and 2004 to 2008) and 1-3 against the Cougars as USU’s coach.

"It has been really good," Mendenhall said about the relationship he has had with Andersen. "As soon as he left the U., it changed, and he was much more open and normal, actually, in terms of public relations and our friendship. And then we recruited his son [Chasen], and that was a great relationship. So we have gotten to know each other well. I think there is mutual respect and admiration. It just took him changing schools."

Chasen Andersen signed with BYU last February, but Mendenhall released the linebacker from his National Letter of Intent so he could walk on at Wisconsin and play for his father.

Gary Andersen said Monday that he now owes Mendenhall two favors. Mendenhall gave him a phone call when Andersen was at Park City High and told him about an opening at Northern Arizona, where Mendenhall had been coaching.

"We were good friends for a number of years," Andersen said. "In the last few years it has definitely grown since my time at Utah State. We’ve become close coaching friends. We text back and forth quite a bit. I have great respect for him."

Mendenhall said Andersen deserved to land one of the more prestigious coaching jobs in the country.

"He’s qualified. He did a really nice job at Utah State, did a nice job at Utah as the [defensive] coordinator," Mendenhall said. "And he’s done a nice job already with [Wisconsin]. So it doesn’t surprise me."

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Former Utah assistant coach Andy Ludwig is UW’s new offensive coordinator, so he’s also very familiar with BYU, and BYU with him.

More Big Ten, please

BYU hasn’t played a Big Ten team since it lost to Ohio State 28-21 in the 1993 Holiday Bowl. The Cougars are scheduled to play at Michigan on Sept. 26, 2015 and at Wisconsin again in 2018.

"I love it," Mendenhall said about preparing for a Big Ten team. "It has been really fun watching the Big Ten opponents. It is a great fit. I like the focus on academics. I like the matchup. I hope we schedule more and more Big Ten teams."

Van Noy’s good, but ...

Gary Andersen had plenty of praise for BYU’s All-America linebacker, Kyle Van Noy, on Monday, but with a catch.

"The Van Noy kid is a good linebacker," Andersen said. "He’s one of the top linebackers in the country. But we all know where the top linebacker in the country plays football. That is right here in our own backyard."

Andersen was referring to UW senior linebacker Chris Borland, also a semifinalist for the Butkus and Bednarik awards. Borland missed Saturday’s 28-9 win over Iowa with a sore hamstring, but he has said he expects to play against BYU.

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