“Our goal is to win a national championship."
These words have been spoken by Bronco Mendenhall countless times, ever since BYU dived into FBS independence. It is a worthy goal for all football programs—to be the best team in the country.
But is a national championship truly possible with Mendenhall at the helm?
I may not be one to judge, but the obvious answer is no.
To get to the national championship, not to mention winning it, the Cougars would almost certainly need to be undefeated and ranked higher than a Group of Five (Mountain West, C-USA, etc.) champion. From there, the selection committee would need to pick BYU.
The committee takes a good look at quality wins, strength of schedule and rankings. It would be necessary for the Cougs to have a strong schedule and essentially run the table, which is unlikely.
Bronco has a high winning percentage at BYU, but the closest he's gotten to undefeated is 11-2 (three times). That trio of two-loss seasons includes great wins, with triumphs over six ranked teams, but were haunted by bad losses.
Mendenhall's squads lost to Florida State, UCLA and Arizona, all of whom ended the regular season at 6-6.
It's been the same story since 2005; BYU wins most of the games it is expected to win and loses most of the ones in which it is the underdog. Mendenhall is 5-12 against ranked opponents, and although he has a few solid upsets on his resume, that kind of record is far from elite.
Not to mention the bad losses in which BYU was favored. In the last two years, the Cougars lost very winnable games against Utah, Virginia and San Jose State.
It is easy to blame factors other than the coaching for mistakes, but the final scores don't always tell the story.
Hideous play-calling, amateur clock management and poor preparation have been the story of back-to-back five-loss seasons. When you are trying to go on a "Quest for Perfection," maybe you should spend more time prepping for the week's game than the fireside.
BYU showed plenty of improvement from the Virginia game to the bowl, but some of the same mistakes still existed from week one. Notably on offense, there is a long way to go for Robert Anae and his staff.
I understand that there are plenty of people out there that love Bronco. He seems like a great guy, and at BYU, it is important to have that type of head coach. But on the field, he isn't someone that will get BYU to a national championship, much less win one.
Does Bronco Mendenhall deserve to stay at BYU?
I'm not a disgruntled spectator looking for a scapegoat. Mendenhall has given new life to this Cougar program, but the steam from the John Beck and Max Hall days is quickly fading.
Look at it this way—in any occupation, if you set a goal for yourself and the program, only to fall well short of it for nine years, will you keep your job?
Here’s a wake-up call to all Cougar fans. Put down the blue Kool-Aid and realize that Bronco will never take BYU to an elite level. That is the main goal of independence, but with this coaching staff, it isn’t going to happen.
In the words of Geoffrey Chaucer, "All good things must come to an end."
Amen, Geoffrey. Let’s stop settling for good, and move on to great.