To help get through the summer, I will be sitting down with various Mountain West football coaches. We'll discuss football, the upcoming season and anything they feel like chatting about. In May, I sat down with Wyoming coach Joe Glenn and today I had the pleasure (sure, we'll call it that) of meeting BYU football coach Bronco Chaps Mendenhall. This is that interview.
Bronco enjoying himself a bit too much prior to our interview.
I met Bronco at Cougar To Be Daycare, which was located about a mile and a half from LaVell Edwards Stadium. Perplexed by the location of the interview, I couldn't help but ask Bronco why he chose the setting. He mumbled in his trademark monotone drawl that he picked the daycare because he was on a recruiting trip, as, in his words, "you can never start too young". He said this timing 4 and 5 year olds doing the 40-yard dash. Unfortunately, none of the kids could do it in a respectable time and a clearly agitated Bronco stormed out of the daycare muttering something about blowing his horse grooming time on watching those "darn kids".
Not wanting to upset him any further, I approached Bronco and asked if he wanted to do the interview another time. However, after a second of silent prayer, he said we could continue and so I did.
Block U: Bronco is such a unique name. In fact, it has a nice porn star ring to it, which is why it's hard to picture someone like you with this name. Do you know why your parents decided to name you this?
Bronco: The perplexities of a name can contrast well with the character of a human being. It identifies the root of their existence, the bedrock of their future. Bronco, a rugged, harsh and fighting name, was bestowed upon me by my parents because they wanted a child who, like any warrior, would stand up for what is right and just. I believe this name gave me the ability to do just that.
Block U: And here I thought it was because your father was a horse trainer.
This obviously hit a nerve with Bronco, whose face actually showed some emotion. In fact, it turned Ute red and he pounded his fist on the hood of a beat-up Chevy Impala forcefully.
Bronco: Don't you ever, ever bring that part of my life up again, do you understand? I was not named after a horse, is that clear? Is that clear, young man?
I stepped back, regrouped and shook my head conveying I understood his words.
Block U: I apologize if I upset you, so let's move on. You seem like a spiritual man, someone who likes to intertwine religion and football nearly seamlessly. Do you think this is a problem?
Bronco: When I was brought into this wonderful world of ours, God Himself whispered in my ear as I shot from my mother's uterus. And though I can't discuss with you those words, I can tell you it was a calling, a prediction that I would coach God's team. BYU is God's team and I will not only help promote His team, but spread His message while doing it.
Block U: Was God on vacation from 2002 to 2006?
Bronco: His plan is complex and not one a puny mortal like you and I could ever hope to know.
Block U: You mean His plan for life, or BYU football?
Bronco: Is there a difference? Let us examine this for a second, because I truly believe both go hand-in-hand. In fact, I would wager BYU football is far more important than God's message of life, purity and His moralist views. Because without the success of BYU football, life as we know it ceases to exist.
Block U: Isn't that a bit extreme? I mean, BYU football might be important to Brigham Young University, but the entire existence of life as we know it?
Bronco: Do you dare question My --- err, His plan? You're quite the humanist.
Block U: Uh, yeah...I think we're done with religion. Let's talk about the upcoming football season. Do you think BYU can bust the BCS?
Bronco: God willing.
Block U: Of course, I should've known you would have said that. But really, what does BYU have to do to finish undefeated this year?
Bronco: Live right. It's that simple. God rewards those who live right and if you're a sinner or not doing what you need to be doing, He will punish.
Block U: Uh huh, I see. Let me rephrase this, what does BYU have to do on the football field to finish 12-0?
Bronco: It starts with prayer --
Tired of the religion talk, I cut Bronco off, he looked at me sharply, but it had to be done.
Block U: Let's stay on subject here, Bronco. Ok?
Bronco didn't say anything, instead quickly glancing around, as if someone was calling out his name.
Block U: Are you alright?
Bronco: My horses...they're calling me! One of them is in trouble. We must go.
Bronco grabbed my arm, pulled me into his truck and we sped from the daycare parking lot, down a dirt path and toward the Mendenhall Ranch. After a short drive, we arrived and a worried Bronco darted toward the horse stable, where one of his horses, Detmer, moaned a horrible sound.
Bronco: My pride and joy, he seems to be hurt.
An upset Bronco then walked over to Detmer, put his hands around its stomach and began pushing, humming a soothing gospel tune I could not place. After a minute, Bronco's body jolted and his eyes ripped open.
Bronco: I hear his voice, he's speaking to me!
Block U: What? Who? The horse?
He didn't say anything, instead shaking his head.
Bronco: A pain, a deep pain in its backside. Oh poor Detmer, he's suffering. He needs my help.
Bronco then walked to the horse's rear, lifted up its tail and shoved his arm into its anus.
Detmer released a loud cry, but he was not deterred and eventually pulled out a football. Bronco stormed out of the stable and yelled toward the quaint two-story farm house.
Bronco: Breaker! Were you throwing the football at Detmer's butt again?
This was exciting stuff, far better than the interview itself. Breaker, who I could not see, shot back that he did, in fact, use it and quickly expressed regret. Bronco forgave him, like any deeply religious man would do.
Block U: How did you know to look in there?
Bronco: I have a deep connection with my horses and our relationship allows us to communicate with one another.
Block U: So you're a horse whisperer?
Bronco: More than that, I see myself as a horse raconteur.
Block U: This is very interesting...the things you learn!
Bronco: I am a very interesting person.
He then looked back to the house, where the smell of rubber and possum dominated the air.
Bronco: Ah, dinner! God's gift to us all. Well thank you for the interview, young man, but I must bid adieu.
Bronco walked me to the end of the road and told me the way back to the daycare. As I began walking down the nearly deserted highway, I couldn't help but think the man I had just interviewed was completely and utterly insane.