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Vai's View: Recognize others' potential and help them develop it

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  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 12:56 p.m.

    Just another example of how these two vastly different programs are on vastly different levels, headed in vastly different directions.

    The future of football in Utah, is Utah

  • TheNun Granstville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 12:57 p.m.

    I agree with Vai, Bronco's insistence that he serve as both head coach and defensive cooridnator, limits the growth of those on his staff. I'm not sure if this is due to an over inflated ego, or insecurity on Bronco's part.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 1:04 p.m.

    "The point is, the most successful coaches and organizations groom and develop their own talent and people."

    Excellent insights. I happen to be a big fan of two football organizations who do this as well, or better than any other organization: U of U football, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 1:06 p.m.

    I have lived in several places outside of the Wasatch Front where callings often felt like they had come thru desperation rather than inspiration- I will always be grateful for a wise Stake Pres. who counciled me long ago as a young EQP to make one of my priorities developing people so that when I was released his job would be much harder selecting my replacement since it would now be inspiration and not as much desperation- nice piece Vai- thanks

  • Matthebomb WEST JORDAN, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 1:47 p.m.

    Vai - Did you not see the disaster that was Jamie Hill. Guy killed the defense. Also, Norm Chow is a real stretch. He is at the tail end of his career and could have been a head coach a long time ago. I promise Hawaii didn't hire him because of how great Utah's offense was last year. Also, why didn't you bring up the fact that Aaron Roderick was demoted after 1 year as co-offensive coordinator and that Dave Schram was the other coordinator and was demoted and left because of Brian Johnson. Why no mention of them?

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 2:19 p.m.

    Vai,

    Great and insightful article. I agree with you that byu needs to improve recruiting and leadership quickly, or there will be dire consequences.

    Let's hope and pray that it's not too late.

  • WindowSeat Provo, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 2:23 p.m.

    Good article with some great insight, although I don't like how much the Doman hire was just hurried over. Hiring Doman is very similar to hiring BJ but seems smarter on the surface. I like the direction that these local programs are headed.

  • socalcougar! La Crescenta, CA
    Feb. 24, 2012 2:24 p.m.

    I agree with Vai on Bronco, but this could be a different story in a few years if Bronco's young assistants develop and get promoted. However, giving Utah credit for Norm Chow as a new head coach is a laugh. If any coach gets credit for that one it would be Lavell Edwards or Pete Carroll. Utah's offensive last year was the reason Norm Chow got the head coaching position at Hawaii? Norm is from Hawaii and his success at BYU and USC got him the job.

  • Chase Saint George, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 2:35 p.m.

    @matthebomb

    Respectfully, I think you are missing Vai's point. This is not an article about football or sports.

    Vai is making a thoughtful and wise point about our stewardship toward others and their potential and growth. This is about the parable of the talents. Some are given one and return one. Some are given one and returning five.

    So Jaime didn't work out. Neither you or I could say WHY he didn't work out. Putting the blame squarely on Jaime would be unfair. Not all projects, hires, ventures work. Think Edison/Lightbulb and the failure to success ratio.

    At some point we have to realize in our lives that self-fulfillment only goes so far. Our sphere of influence has to reach far beyond ourselves to truly experience joy and fulfillment. We must return 5 talents when we are given one. My statement is not a condemnation of anyone mentioned in this article. Just an interpretation of a wise message.

  • rre923 PROVO, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 2:40 p.m.

    Or could it be that Kyle just wants people who won't give him a hassle, so he can really run things?

  • bslack Draper, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 2:40 p.m.

    While I totally agree with Vai's premise concerning the development of leaders, I agree with others as to Norm Chow falling under Kyle's tree. I will admit that Kyle does a good job of developing his young coaches and has been mentioned, not all have worked out. But Kyle holds them accountable and moves on if it isn't working. Norm Chow would truly fit under Coach Edwards coaching tree. I also believe that Bronco has brought in some younger coaches that hopefully he can trust to move the DC to them in the near future.

    Vai does not seem to have a favorable opinion concerning Bronco. Perhaps forcing Coach Anae out as well as other coaching moves in the past couple of years with graduate assistants and other young coaches has soured Vai on BYU Football.

  • Bear Somewhere, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 3:03 p.m.

    Great article Vai. That is what this life is all about, growing your family. Whether it be your children, office, team, church or neighborhood helping others reach their potential is what needs to be done. Maybe you should take this message up the road to D.C. and see if anyone will listen to you there so we can improve this country!

  • Target Provo, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2012 3:29 p.m.

    It's been obvious for some time that Vai prefers his friend and former Cougar teammate, Kyle Whittingham, over a man he doesn't know and who had the audacity to fire a Polynesian. He already wrote a whole hatchet job article on Coach Mendenhall for that one. But can he seriously count Norm Chow or Gary Andersen as Whittingham's proteges??

    Norm Chow was a head coach in Hawaii before Kyle ever even played for BYU! Chow went to BYU as a graduate assistant in 1973 (Kyle was 15 at the time). It was Lavell Edwards who kept promoting him up the ladder. Plus, Chow has already been a head coach for USC back in 2010 -- BEFORE going to Utah. So, coaching a mere 1 year at Utah does not in any logical sense make him one of Kyle's "branches"!

    Likewise, Gary Andersen had already been a head coach at Southern Utah University before ever coaching at the U. It is also a stretch to say that Kyle made him a head coach.

    Saying that Bronco does not recognize and develop talent is to ignore his young coaching staff. That is precisely what he is doing.

  • Thunderbird Boise, ID
    Feb. 24, 2012 3:31 p.m.

    I cannot agree on Vai's take regarding Chow. Lavell is responsable for developing Chow. It is clear to me that Vai has soured on Bronco. Ever since Anai left and Bronco did not hire a particular grad assistant I have detected a negative vibe from Vai towards Bronco. I have raised this in numerous posts but DN has always refused to post them. I am sure they will not post this one either. Cant let your columnists take any heat?

  • pabellon Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 3:42 p.m.

    This is a nice promotional article for your buddy, Kyle. But, honestly, in what delusional universe could Norm Chow ever be considered one of Kyle's branches?! Chow has been coaching football since your buddy, Kyle, was 11.

    And why was it fine with you for Kyle NOT to hire Anae, but you had to write a whole huge article bashing Bronco for not keeping Anae? Oh yeah, I forgot: Kyle is your buddy and Bronco is not. Nice.

  • Katiebugg Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 3:45 p.m.

    Funny, I could have sworn Edwards spent years developing Chow as a coach. Apparently it was the one year of stellar offense he spent with Whittingham that did it.

    What a ridiculous thought!

  • Ravenal Somewhere in, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2012 3:50 p.m.

    Vai's opinon about Bronco appears to be biased because he (Vai) is a friend and former teammate of Anae and Whittingham. The beginning and ending of the article is great. The middle came across as a puff piece aimed to talk up a friend.

  • Jack Winters Provo, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2012 3:52 p.m.

    Speaking of short-sightedness ... did you honestly think anyone with a brain was going to accept your premise that Chow is a product of Coach Whit? Steve Young played football with Whit -- he must be his product as well. Why not? It makes about the same amount of sense!

    I also found it enlightening to read that you gave Kyle Whittingham a pass for not wanting Anae on his staff while (at the same time) you felt the need to berate Bronco Mendenhall for the same thing! I guess Bronco's REAL shortfalling is that he is NOT you former teammate and friend.

  • So. Cal Reader San Diego, CA
    Feb. 24, 2012 4:01 p.m.

    Welcome back, Vai. Loved this article! I couldn't agree with you more about "teaching" and "developing leaders." I found of particular interest the following quote: "BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall made a bold move by promoting Brandon Doman to offensive coordinator last year, but I think he's limited the development of his staff by assuming the defensive coordinator job. It may work out short term, but he's sacrificing growth long term." Correct! As you compared him with Wittinghman & Meyer, it would be interesting and more relevant to the head coaching duties at BYU, a most unique coaching gig, to the coaching tree w/ LaVell Edwards. His "tree" of developing coaches would fill a forest!

    May I be so bold to suggest that what you identified in this article is precisely why I believe Bronco has reached the zenith of his effectiveness at BYU. I've been a huge fan of his and love what he's brought the BYU program back to after Crowton (egad!); however, I don't see BYU advancing further under Bronco-- following in your "long term" scenario. Let's hope I'm wrong-- I hope I'm wrong. But, because of some of what you identified, I don't think I am.

    Always look forward to your articles.

  • In Stitches Provo, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2012 4:02 p.m.

    "Before he promoted Johnson to offensive coordinator, Whittingham and I briefly discussed the possibility of our mutual friend and former teammate Robert Anae, an experienced coordinator who was available and familiar with the Pac-12 after a year at the University of Arizona. In the end, Whittingham felt Johnson was ready, deserving and needed the chance to grow and further enhance his resume."

    Then why did you crucify Bronco Mendenhall for doing the SAME EXACT THING for Doman?

  • Deep Thoughts Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 4:10 p.m.

    Judging from the photo, Bronco is in much better shape than Kyle.

  • AltaHawkFan Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 4:40 p.m.

    Hey, kryle. How is Roderick's development coming along ? Oh, and calling Chow a 'branch' from kwhit's 'tree' ? What a joke. Like kwhit taught Chow anything about football. hahahaha

  • AltaHawkFan Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 4:42 p.m.

    Re: XelaDave

    So, are you saying that you were the 'desperation' calling ?

  • JohnInSLC Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 4:48 p.m.

    How amusing that y fans eschew giving any credit to Whitt for being Norm Chow's last boss before Hawaii hired him as its HC, yet are quick to give credit to LaVell Edwards despite a twelve year interim.

    Hah! Although he called plays for 17 years, Norm spent only three seasons as the Y's OC before he left in '99, when he saw the writing on the wall that he wouldn't be LaVell's replacement. The Y's failure to hire him as HC hardly is a ringing endorsement for claiming he's a product of LaVell.

    On the other hand, Whitt turned the Utes offense completely over to Norm last year despite a pretty bare cupboard at QB, and Norm was able to keep the ship afloat with what was left. Undoubtedly the qualities Norm showed then were enough to convince UH to make the leap that nobody else had made for 12 years--THE Y INCLUDED!

    Vai's right, Norm belongs on Whitt's coaching tree.

  • EdGrady Idaho Falls, ID
    Feb. 24, 2012 4:55 p.m.

    Doman was a disaster and Johnson will follow suit - too young - too inexperienced.

  • VegasUte Las Vegas, NV
    Feb. 24, 2012 5:25 p.m.

    Very insightful and extremely intelligent reporting. Thanks Vai!!

  • bslack Draper, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 5:30 p.m.

    Nice spin job JohnInSLC. Doesn't make any sense, but that's what spinning is about. The idea of a Coaching tree is development of a person and giving them the opportunity to grow and succeed. Norm Chow was a great hire for Kyle, but I think he has been ready for a few years to get a Head Coach position. To say his experience last year better prepared Norm than his experience at BYU, USC, or Pro is dumb. Coach Edwards deserves much more credit as well as Coach Carroll than Kyle. I love Kyle as a coach and he certainly will have successful branches in future, but take off the crimson glasses.

  • Cherrycoug Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 6:27 p.m.

    I disagree with Vai. I think Vai has been jaded by the removal of Robert Anae (teammate) and Bronco hiring Coach Dupaix over his close friend Mark Autuaia. One of the core values of journalism is to remain impartial and Vai has shown that he is not impartial with regards to Bronco Mendenhall.

  • UC UTE Lehi, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 6:36 p.m.

    Guys, a coach is credited for a branch when one of his asst. coaches is promoted to a head coach. Yes Lavell deserves most of the credit for Chow, but Kyle was his last boss.
    @ Target: Gary Andersen coached at Utah before he was HC at SUU. Coach Andersen tree will be impressive if he can keep Coach Whitt from hiring his asst. away, 3 in 2 years.
    Go Utes!!! Go Aggies!!

  • factsplease SLO, CA
    Feb. 24, 2012 6:38 p.m.

    I wonder what Kyle was saying to Bronco in the photograph. I'll bet it was something like, "Okay, I'll give you 43 points, but lets raise the bet to $2 dollars".

  • SoUtBoy25 Cedar City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 7:59 p.m.

    What do we learn from Vai's View?

    A good coach does not promote young promising talent over friends and family.

    A good coach hires friends and family of people that have access to media and are willing to abuse it.

    A good coach hires experienced OC's and former head coaches and grafts them into their coaching tree and like a politician takes credit for their development as new head coaches (even thought they had already either been one or turned down several).

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 9:14 p.m.

    Vai, I usually love your columns and have made many comments of praise in the past. But you laid an egg on this one. I agree with your premise that leaders should develop other leaders...right on. But your feelings about Bronco and decisions he's made that affect you emotionally overpower the good reasoning in your message. You let your journalistic guard down and exposed your emotional chin in this article. Bronco's a good man, whether we always agree with him or not. I thought you would recognize this, both as a church leader and a journalist, and be more objective.

    BTW, I agree with many others that putting Chow on Whit's tree is pretty silly...I just don't buy it.

  • fresnogirl Fresno, CA
    Feb. 24, 2012 9:45 p.m.

    I like the idea of this article, namely, that we should strive to recognize potential in others and help them to develop it. I think it applies to many aspects of life and the gospel as well as sports.

    But I definitely do NOT agree with your contention that Coach Mendenhall is failing to do this. I think Kelly Poppinga, Nick Howell and Brandon Doman are some examples of Bronco doing just that.

    I also have to agree with others that Norm Chow is not a product of Kyle Whittingham. I think it is rather insulting to Coach Chow to even imply that. He was coaching, after all, when Whittingham was still in elementary school! Also, it was Lavell who promoted him through the ranks from graduate assistant to, ultimately, Offensive Coordinator.

    I also have to agree with the others who have pointed out the hypocrisy of giving Kyle an attaboy for doing exactly what you crucified Bronco for doing: promoting a younger coach to OC rather than having Anae do that job. It seems as though you want the Cougar program to be a good ol' boy network for your friends and family and Bronco just doesn't cooperate with that. Bronco's true failing in your eyes is that he is neither one of your former teammates nor Polynesian. This was a poorly thought out article!

  • rhappahannock Washington, DC
    Feb. 24, 2012 9:55 p.m.

    Taxpayers in Utah have been spending $6 million a year to subsidize the Ute athletic program. I think it is ridiculous that money designated for Education goes to support the corrupt BCS system. The state legislature should quit forcing fans of other schools in the state to support the BCS with their hard-earned money, when the BCS is trying to destroy athletics at the schools they support.

    Vai did not earn his money on this article. Anderson is a product of himself (head coach at SUU 1997-2003 and Park City High School) and MAFU (1995-1996). Anae certainly did a better job at BYU and Texas Tech than he did at Arizona, and would be considered off the tree of Leach. Saying that Chow is off the tree of Whit is a rather ridiculous statement, as Chow was coaching with Lavell back in 73, when Whitt would not have even been in high school. I would put Whit on the coaching tree of Mafu, and not Meyer. Crowton and Lavell were really stupid to not have hired Whit away.

  • Heater BALA CYNWYD, PA
    Feb. 24, 2012 11:20 p.m.

    Sheesh, Cougar Nation is so sensitive! My gosh. Vai didn't question Bronco's worthiness to hold a temple recommmend. Whit may not be responsible for all Chow has achieved, but he hired him and Chow got his 1st head coaching job while in Kyle's employ so Kyle deserves credit, if only partial for that. Yes, Roderick and Schamm didn't work out but to KW's credit, he fixed it and moved on. He'll do the same if BJ doesn't work out.

    Vai's column doesn't have to be balanced - it's commentary and his OPINION people! Of course his opinions are shaped by his experiences and relationships. Agree or disagree, Vai puts it out there and I'm glad he does. I don't read anyone else putting themselves out there as Vai does.

  • trentster TUSTIN, CA
    Feb. 25, 2012 12:24 a.m.

    Well, I guess Vai will not be receiving the Mendenhall family Christmas card this year. Very refreshing assessment from an LDS editorial sports contributor--is that Vai's position at the DN? It appears that Bronco looks upon himself as the BYU football mission president, serving with his OC as one "counselor", being unable to find another "worthy" brother, he has opted to "call" and "set apart" himself to serve as the DC or other "counselor". Very simple to understand when put into this context. The demand of both jobs is too great, do one or the other. If a change is not made, the program will continue to suffer, especially with increased difficulty of the schedule in the next two years.

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 25, 2012 2:52 a.m.

    @bslack

    you wrote "Vai does not seem to have a favorable opinion concerning Bronco. Perhaps forcing Coach Anae out as well as other coaching moves in the past couple of years with graduate assistants and other young coaches has soured Vai on BYU Football."

    I am a Ute fan but agree with you here.

    Next. @target

    You wrote "Likewise, Gary Andersen had already been a head coach at Southern Utah University before ever coaching at the U. It is also a stretch to say that Kyle made him a head coach."

    That's not true. Anderson was at Utah, left for a year to coach SUU, then came back when Kyle offered him the DC position in 2005. He was a talent before, but Kyle recognized it, and Gary blossomed under Kyle from there.

    Moving on, is it just me or does Vai give us his resume every chance he gets. I find his writing interesting, but the self praise gets old.

  • Morgan Duel Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 25, 2012 6:29 a.m.

    Welcome to Sacramento.

  • CO Ute PARKER, CO
    Feb. 25, 2012 9:17 a.m.

    A former Y player states his opinions, some of which are negative about BYU, and many fans go nuts. I think it is funny that a group of people that never played college football and don't have the inside relationship with the current coaches claim to know more about the situation than Vai.

    Coach Chow developed himself over a long career under multiple mentors and no he didn't get the job at Hawaii just because of K Whit. But you are reading too much into that thought process, I doubt that Vai intended the comments to come across that way.

    For the rest of the article, learn to accept reasonable criticism. You may disagree but the man has some very valid points.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    Feb. 25, 2012 11:13 a.m.

    "Just another example of how these two vastly different programs are on vastly different levels, headed in vastly different directions."

    Utah's 2010 record: 10-3
    Utah's 2011 record: 8-5

    BYU's 2010 record: 7-6
    BYU's 2011 record: 10-3

    I see what you mean, Chris B. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    Feb. 25, 2012 11:24 a.m.

    All you Ute folks who criticize Cougs for disagreeing with Vai on a few issues: Are you kidding me? Vai doesn't need your protection. He's a big boy. Let him speak for himself...he always does, and in my opinion he is right most of the time. But this column was not his best and his ethnic and relationship biases come through loud and clear. And yes, he is an alpha male and he is proud of his accomplishments...and he recounts them to ensure we all know he is a credible voice on the issues he writes about. I'm not offended by that. On the contrary, I'm often inspired by what he has accomplished, by his drive, by his passion, by his loyalty to friends and family, and by his integrity. I just think his emotions got the best of his reason in this article. He ain't perfect! All of this is just my opinion. Isn't that what comment forums are for?

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Feb. 25, 2012 11:57 a.m.

    Vai obviously has a problem with Bronco and I am sure it is for many of the reasons others have already stated.

    Far more interesting to me though is the standard utah "fan" hypocrisy exibited in the comments. Vai ciriticzed Bronco while praising whittingham so they are all in full agreement with him. But if you go back to past articles they criticize Vai mercilessly. Remember the article Vai wrote criticizing chris hill about not puching the pac12 to not schedule utah games during general preisthood session? Every utah "fan" that commented on that article was bitter about it and highly critical of Vai for it.

    So as usual the utah "fans" expose themselves as hypocrites. I love it.

    LOL!

  • pjspack Puyallup, wa
    Feb. 25, 2012 1:19 p.m.

    Vai,

    I have liked a lot of your previous articles. They were uplifting and very inspiring. But continuing to try and find fault with what Bronco is trying to do at BYU is reaching scary proportions. Listen I understand your upset he didn't hire Mark Atuaia. But please enough is enough,is this really the kind of example you want to show the youth of your stake? You have to know you are undermining Bronco's authority with his team. The Bronco Mendenhall that I know is a good man and he doesn't deserve this. Please let it go.

  • GoRed WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Feb. 25, 2012 3:44 p.m.

    My, cougar nation, aren't we being just a bit insensitive? I can't really see anything too harsh on Bronco in this article. Vai is just stating his opinion on how Kyle and Bronco have both gone about developing their assistant coaches.

    So, oldcougar, duckhunter, etc., hold off on the "hypocritical" accusations toward the Ute fan base for once, and just let us all read the article.

  • AZguy Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 28, 2012 11:14 a.m.

    Of course I believe the general premise of the article. Organizations are always stronger when they develop talent form within.

    I also agree with the premise that Via has seemed to take a negative tone with Bronco. There is nothing wrong with that, it is just an observation. Not hiring or keeping more polynesian coaches might be a part of that. On the other hand, I don't look at Via's articles at true journalism, thereby requiring unbiased information and opinions. They are musings by a man with great experience in many facets of life.

    I have not been impressed by Doman thus far, but Anae's last year was ugly too. BYU was 10-3 in spite of Doman and probably would have been about the same with Anae at the OC. If Anae were the OC, Jake Heaps would probably still be here and I don't know if that is good or not.

  • BigCougar Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 28, 2012 4:07 p.m.

    D & C 64:10 "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."

    Vai, as a "Stake Officer" and a preacher of the responsibility of developing future leaders, you need to heed your own counsel and lead by example. You've harbored a grudge against Bronco long enough. It's time to bury the hatchet and forgive him for whatever it was he did or said that offended you.

    You'll be a happier man in the long run if you do.

  • gocoogz Spanish Fork, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    I am so glad that Kyle groomed Norm so well. What would Norm have done without him? I guess the Roderick was a bust than right? Brought in Norm for one year demoting Roderick and then hire someone else instead of him. Good grooming. Have you considered that the BYU tree may me smaller because it is a destination job instead of the next step?
    I don't know what changed your mind about BYU but the last year you have been on one. You act as though you are pointing out the obvious when you are grasping for straws, such as chow being a product of Utah, to make BYU look bad. It only reveals that you have something that is bugging you about BYU. Just come out and say it. Is it the lack of Poly Blood on the coaching staff? Does Bronco not consult you and stroke your ego like Kyle does, even though Kyle does not listen to you? Was it the firing of Anea? Why not just get it out there instead of making us read this fictional garbage?

  • In Stitches Provo, Utah
    Feb. 29, 2012 7:41 p.m.

    If the past is any indicator of the future, then Vai's next blog will be an overly emotional one defending this silly piece of fiction.

  • ExDixieIte Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 8:56 p.m.

    Looking at the Norm Chow situation I do see a very viable scenario where Coach Whittingham may indeed be responsible for Coach Chow getting the position at Hawaii. For years I worked as a project manager for a company that built buildings to lease to the Federal government and the US Post Office. For several years there was a general foreman I'll call Bob that I heard about. Bob had a reputation for getting projects he ran in early but was rarely picked to work large projects, usually relegated to neighborhood Post Offices. For most of my time the company was divided into regions and I was in the west while Bob was in the mid-west.

    Toward the end of my tenure there the company dissolved the regions and when we won the bid to build a rather large government facility in Nevada and I requested to have Bob for my general foreman. It wasn't half an hour before the e-mails started coming in. "The biggest jerk you'll ever work with". "He'll drive off half the workers in the first 90-days". "Prepare for a year of non-stop [complaining] from everyone you work with". The first day I met with Bob he had the timeline paperwork with six areas highlighted where he could accelerate the construction. Excavation and infrastructure went smoothly and Bob and I became friends. Then came the iron. This was an area Bob identified where he could make things more efficient. Nearly every day I fielded at least on call or e-mail from my counterpart at the iron company. Bob was abrasive. Bob berated their supervisors when he didn't think their teams were working hard enough. Bob was even handing out $5 and $10 bills to their employees that were either doing quality work which was a violation of their company policy. All I was watching was the timeline which was constantly green. To make this rather long analogy rather short the next thing we knew we were hoisting the American Flag on the last piece of iron being set in place almost three and a half weeks early, our quality check and X-rays were 100% and my beleaguered and constantly complaining counterpart at the iron company was cashing his bonus and receiving accolades for being ahead of schedule. Our bonus, if I may say was considerably nicer and I was well rewarded.

    Bob was more that qualified to be a project manager and probably was better qualified for my job than I was. One night over dinner I asked Bob, "do you want to be a project manager?" About six expletives and three or four minutes of explanation that he had applied so many times only to be rejected because management hated him the answer, I realized, was yes. I told Bob that I could teach him what he needed to know to become one. He had the talent. He lacked the interpersonal skills.

    Cut to the chase, the building came in five weeks early, the bonus I received paid for and more an extremely nice Mediterranean cruise with my wife and three months later Bob was my peer as a project manager. So why do I tell this rather lengthy story? Two reasons. First I'm somewhat bored with the Jazz game and secondly I wonder if the scenario between Coaches Chow and Whittingham may have a similar path.

    Coach Chow has had a reputation for being surly, being difficult to work with, bucking the system all of which appeared to be keys in his leaving BYU after being told he wouldn't be the successor to Coach Edwards. He then moved through several positions applied for several head coaching jobs and was turned down for every one. The "difficult to work with" tag was planted firmly on Coach Chow and he was never able to overcome it.

    But during his tenure at Utah things appeared to be different and I have to admit that Coach Chow took Utah's offense much further than anyone could have expected after Jordan Wynn went down with yet another season ending injury. Then Hawaii came calling with their vacant position and this time he caught the brass ring he had long been seeking. Now many comments say that Coach Chow was hired for his success with BYU and USC. If that were the case why was he not snapped up as a head coach during those tenures? He was obviously successful. What held him back? Perhaps Coach Chow learned something under Coach Whittingham that, like Bob, gave him something that he was lacking to convince the University of Hawaii, a very successful program albeit in the WAC, to give Coach Chow the program in his first head coaching job at nearly 70 years old.

    I truly believe that Coach Mendenhall is an excellent fit for his position at BYU. BYU is and always will be a school at a higher level than most other NCAA D-1A schools in academic, moral and spiritual standards. I have absolutely no question that Coach Mendenhall understands that to the point where I can't think of another coach that could replace him in those areas. From a purely athletic point it is interesting that Coach Whittingham has coaches continually being sought by other organizations while BYU does not.

    I have full faith that The Church will do what is right at BYU and that BYU will continue to be a beacon to the world of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the standards that it stands for. And I will cheer for my boys in blue in every effort they make. But if I were to come here and profess that there isn't a gap forming and slowly widening between our Cougars and the team to the north I would be but another of the crowds cheering the emperor's new clothes. Coach Whittingham is an excellent coach. He seems a good and moral man and true to his LDS beliefs. Coach Mendenhall is likewise but one can't deny that the relationship between BYU and Utah changed last year forever and I fear that they, not BYU, are headed for a brighter prominence than are we.

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    March 4, 2012 4:09 p.m.

    My goodness BYU fans are sensitive about even the slightest criticism of anything about BYU. Vai doesn't have a "grudge" against Mendenhall. He is just pointing out some observations he has made relative to Kyle Whittingham (and relative to Whittingham, there aren't a lot of coaches who will compare favorably, so it really is okay). Whittingham has proven to be a fantastic coach. His accomplishments speak for themselves. That someone might not be doing quite as well shouldn't be cause to get all emotional. Also, it it far past time for BYU fanatics to get over Whittingham turning down BYU (talk about grudges). His wife and kids strongly wanted to stay where they were and he did was was best for his family. Normally, we would applaud such a decision.