San Francisco • Regardless of what happens in Friday’s Fight Hunger Bowl against the Pac-12’s 8-4 Washington Huskies, BYU’s football season has been a success, coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday.
At the bowl’s introductory news conference at AT&T Park, Mendenhall said he desperately wants to win the game, but won’t acknowledge the 8-4 Cougars’ third season of independence was a disappointing one if they don’t.
Fight Hunger BowlBYU vs. Washington
» AT&T Park, San Francisco
» Friday, 7:30 p.m. MST
TV » ESPN
"I am already calling this season a success," he said. "I kind of categorize that it has been a good season, or is a good season. It is hard to win eight games, and it is hard to go to a bowl game. It is hard to consistently keep the program performing at a high level."
Mendenhall had just heard Washington interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo talk about how important it was for the Huskies to get to eight wins this season when he discussed his ninth season at the BYU helm.
"Winning eight games, against the schedule that we played — six of the wins were against bowl teams, so it was difficult," Mendenhall said. "Nine [wins] would be a very, very good season."
Mendenhall said the program made progress this year, after last year’s 8-5 season caused him to replace his entire offensive staff.
"I think offensively we established a new identity and played harder and more united as a team," he said. "Productivity wise, we were much better."
Mendenhall said linebacker Spencer Hadley (knee) will not play Friday, but tight end Devin Mahina (abductor strain) will play. Quarterback Taysom Hill said receiver Ross Apo won’t play, but has made the trip. Apo has struggled with a sore shoulder virtually the entire season.
No bowl worries
BYU has yet to announce its bowl plans or agreement for next year, but Mendenhall said fans shouldn’t worry.
"It is already in the works," he said. "It is just not my place to announce it. [Athletic director] Tom [Holmoe] has that [duty] and there is no worry about if we have one, where we will play, or anything like that. It is actually a really good situation. Tom will announce that whenever he sees fit."
No changes coming
Unless a BYU assistant coach is hired away by another program, expect all 10 to return for the 2014 season.
"I don’t have any intentions to change any coach on our staff," Mendenhall said. "With the success we’ve had over the past nine years, that doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t come after any of our coaches. But my intent is to not change any. And that’s a great thing."
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