Mendenhall Addresses Commitment

Coach Mendenhall places the value of one's word at the top of the list when it comes to integrity and honor. It's a standard he holds himself to in an effort to teach life skills to his players. Over the past five years as head coach, Mendenhall has had very few football players commit only to back out prior to signing day.

During Wednesday's signing day press conference, Coach Mendenhall was very up front and direct about what it means to give one's commitment.

"Without addressing any young man specifically, because that wouldn't be fair to our current class or the young man because I can't speak for him, but I do have a very distinct and long running policy," said Mendenhall. "When I present a scholarship to a young man in my office, and in writing, and in front of a young man and his parents, I make it very clear to everyone [what a commitment means] in our class.

"Some in the recruiting world use the verbal commitment like it's a game. I focus on the commitment part and not the verbal part. If I tell you I'm going to do something, I think my honor and distinct honesty is being addressed to do what I'm saying I'm going to do. If for some reason I don't, I'm going to give you a great reason and apologize profusely for any inconvenience that I may have caused you, and I try to prevent that at all cost."

Being the head coach of a program at a private institution, it is important that Mendenhall stresses commitment and demonstrates it himself.

"I try to teach that exact same principle and view the job that I have, first and foremost, as a teacher – not of football, but to teach life skills to young men and their parents," said Mendenhall. "Sometimes parents get caught up in the idea that a verbal commitment is not a commitment when I told them very specifically at BYU a commitment is a commitment no matter how it comes to me."

Mendenhall said that pulling a scholarship offer when recruits do not honor their commitment has been his policy since "day one."

"I don't expect any other visits nor any other interest in any other school, but I have given them the chance," Mendenhall said. "Do not tell me you're coming, do not, unless you're ready to run down the hall and knock the door down to come in my office and put everyone else behind you. That's how I present it to them, so that probably addresses the best way that I can any young man that would choose to take another visit after he has committed to BYU or consider another option and I'm not for it."

Mendenhall added that, of those recruits that flirt with other programs after committing to BYU, "some are pretty secretive as I've found out over the past couple of years, which isn't a good sign. By the way, most of those young men fail at BYU. That's a failure on my part to bring them and it's much better to expose any fit issues prior to BYU than after BYU. That has been the policy for five years. Have I executed it perfectly? I'm not perfect, but what I just told you, if you were in my office when I offered you a scholarship, you will hear those exact same words. The parents or anyone else or any of our recruits could tell you my speech verbatim because I give the exact same one every time."

Over the past five years as head coach at BYU, Mendenhall recalls few players that went back on their commitment to BYU. One was Uona Kaveinga, who ended up going to USC. Kaveinga has since asked for a release from USC and has enrolled at BYU on his own dime until a scholarship is available.

The other two are defensive linemen Hou'oli Jamora and Kona Schwenke, both members of the 2010 recruiting class. Jamora ended up signing with the University of Washington, while Schwenke signed his letter of intent with Notre Dame.

"I think I've only had three young men that told me they were coming to BYU and then change their mind over five years," said Mendenhall. "Meaning, they committed to BYU and then they went elsewhere, and I'm almost positive it's only three. One of the three has since changed his mind and now is back at BYU, so having put that in place, I make it very clear: ‘Please do not commit or accept this offer unless you don't want to be recruited anymore.' So line for line verbatim, that's what I tell the young man, and if you're not willing to commit under those terms, please don't sign or tell me you're coming."


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