PROVO — Former players gathered in the BYU studios during Wednesday's football media day events to talk about their time in the program and what a benefit it was to be coached by Bronco Mendenhall. The first group included John Beck, Curtis Brown and Vic So'oto.
Most of the discussion was about the Utah game in 2006, which topped off a challenging, but highly rewarding stay at BYU for both Beck and Brown. Beck touched on how often he'd think about joining the program at its lowest point, in 2003, and how much easier it would have been to play at a different time.
Beck, Brown and others endured, however, finishing their careers in sterling fashion with the last-second win against Utah and then a thumping of Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Max Hall, Dennis Pitta and Austin Collie then took the stage to talk about similar topics. Collie stated as the session concluded that, "We're three confident individuals and we're not afraid to speak our minds."
Collie proved as much with his statement about the famous fourth-and-18 conversion to help give the Cougars a win against Utah in 2007. During the play, Collie was able to move behind Brice McCain — providing a first down and the eventual win for the Cougars.
"I was very surprised to get open and I'm shocked that kid is in the NFL playing corner," said Collie. "He's a good player now, but to be squatting on fourth-and-18 and to bite on a double-move — I don't know what he was doing."
Collie cited the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl win as another one of his top memories.
Hall talked about his cantankerous relationship with Utah and its fans, which started off before he even took the field for the Cougars. During the 2006 game at Rice-Eccles, Hall didn't have a ticket and snuck into the stadium, finding a seat surrounded by rabid Ute fans.
As Hall is fond of doing, he started talking trash from the start — really giving it to Ute fans after Jonny Harline caught the winning touchdown pass. "And that's where it all started," said Hall.
It ended with Hall's controversial comments following the 2009 win against the Utes where he stated that he hated everything about the program.
Pitta remembers well waiting to take the podium to answer questions when Hall provided his infamous quote.
"Max starts expressing his emotions about (Utah)," said Pitta. "I'll never forget that moment and that was an awesome moment for me to be sure."
All three touched on their sometimes-difficult relationship with coach Mendenhall with Mendenhall even admitting that he didn't like Hall much when he first entered the program, but grew to appreciate his attitude and hard work.
Through it all, despite their differences, they all worked toward a common goal and ended up providing some of the best years for BYU football.
"It's the one thing that we have in common — that we were going to do everything we could to win football games," said Collie.