Let me begin by saying I love Coach Mendenhall (see my username). He is an outstanding person and coach and I feel extremely grateful to have him at BYU. This post is not intended as a criticism, but as an explanation for why I think he acts the way he does.
In general terms, I believe we can begin with the following (overly simplified, but illustrative):
From what I've seen, these represent Bronco's attitudes in his HC capacities. A few items to elaborate:
1. Bronco loves the fans on an individual basis. In personal contact, he is always cordial and the nicest guy you'll ever meet. When fan interaction comes through media involvement, he tends to be more 10 times more reserved in an effort to protect himself and the program.
2. Bronco is more tolerant of BYU-related media i.e. BYUtv, Greg Wrubell. If you compare the Bronco you saw at Media Day and the Bronco you see at his weekly KSL radio show against the Bronco you see in post-practice interviews, Monday press conferences (or with Tom Kirkland
) the difference is night and day.
3. Bronco is annoyed by the vocal minority of fans who speak out about him, his colleagues, his family, or his players either to his face or anonymously. He is extremely loyal and is personally affected by any negative comments about his "band of brothers". Hence, you'll see him bashing the fans who boo. In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with standing up for himself and his players. The problem (why many call him a "PR nightmare") is two-fold:
3a. Bronco seems to believe that fans have no right to question his decisions. As donors and ticket holders, we are stakeholders in the program and have a vested interest in the success of our team. Bronco seems to reject all fan critique (direct or anonymous), telling us our priorities are off or we don't have all the information, even when that critique may have some basis in reality. Unfortunately, sometimes I think Bronco would prefer that all fans just sit back and accept every decision he makes and be happy about everything.
3b. This problem is compounded by Bronco's over-generalization of a few comments/boos as representative of the entire fanbase. I don't believe he actually thinks ALL
fans feel/act that way, but when he tries to speak out against it, that's how it comes across. For example, instead of saying the following:
"As I stood in front of the Cougar Club (Thursday), it felt like I was in front of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Sometimes what play is called on third-and-20 is more important (to them) than what we're trying to do here. My hope is that you support us with your heart as you try to find what's most important in life and see the bigger picture, and join us in that purpose."
and simultaneously throwing all of BYU's boosters under the bus, he probably should have started with: "As I spoke with a few disappointed fans (Thursday)..."
In an effort to simplify, I may have left out certain aspects, but I hope this will at least provide a good summary of why I believe he acts the way he does.