"I'm spent more time in scheduling the past two months than my previous six years combined," Mendenhall said. "It's almost every day and that's not an exaggeration, and the full story wasn't portrayed in that brief session."
In the scheduling process, Coach Mendenhall is looking for one thing: balance.
"So, balance is what I'm seeking in our schedule and it's difficult, but my biggest challenge right now is saying no to all the great opportunities," Coach Mendenhall said. "The number of teams that want to play us on the biggest stage, that's difficult to say no, but there's also some wisdom that has to be applied so you don't over-schedule as well."
There have been three sources that have worked on BYU's scheduling. Obviously, ESPN has a very big hand in the process, but BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and Coach Mendenhall have also mulled over their contacts and coaching influences as well.
"Dave [Brown] is really helpful and is bringing opportunities all the time," said Mendenhall, referring to ESPN's vice president of programming and acquisition. "Tom and I are bringing our contacts to him all the time because of his influence, but it's equal from all three sides with Tom, Dave and myself, but the power of ESPN has absolutely amazed me.
"At this point with what teams will do to get on ESPN, and it doesn't matter if they have a scheduled game or not – if they can play us, let's say in Texas Stadium, or let's say they can play us in RFK Stadium or Yankee Stadium – and they already have a contracted game? It's amazing what they're willing to do and I never believed that was possible and I'm watching it happen."
Remarkably, teams with scheduled games have opted to move and change their schedule just to be a part of BYU's nationally televised schedule.
"Just so we're all clear, they'll move from a date to get on ESPN, and so Dave has huge influence. And so, to say they're not a willing partner to help us with our schedule, they are. Could they over-schedule us? Certainly, unless I step in and maintain the balance, which right now we have a great partnership."
With an ever-changing schedule, an interesting side note has popped up. There will be unique challenges in regards to preparing for numerous new teams on a yearly basis.
"It's going to be really interesting," said Mendenhall. "Ole Miss, for instance, has a new offensive coordinator. They haven't named a starting quarterback and there's four that are still in contention, and I think we're really going to have to be more execution-oriented than we've ever been, because there will be more unknowns early in the season week to week."
The first three games of the 2011 schedule will be some of the more difficult opponents BYU will face. Once teams get three games into the schedule, scouting out their opponents will be much easier.
"Once you've played three games in a given season, we can find out everything we need to know about that opponent," Coach Mendenhall said. "But the first three [games] on any given season … are going to be maybe our most difficult – three at least early on in the first couple years of independence, that will add to the challenge.
"And so how that will affect us? The amount of research that we've already done about gaining access to coach's film, to places they've been, etcetera, we've had to do a lot more summer work than we're used to doing."