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Mendenhall discusses decision to fire defensive coordinator

Mendenhall discusses decision to fire defensive coordinator

By Andrew Adams | Posted - Oct. 4, 2010 at 4:10 p.m.



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PROVO -- BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall is explaining the firing of defensive coordinator Jaime Hill.

Hill was shown the door Saturday after the team went to 1-4 with a loss at Utah State, marking BYU's worst start since the early 1970s.

Mendenhall says it was the right choice, motivated by "feelings, instincts, promptings."

"I did what I thought was best for the program," Mendenhall told reporters Monday at his weekly news conference. "Difficult decision, but I've aligned myself now with the way that I think I can make a real difference in our program at a deeper level."

Mendenhall will serve as his own defensive coordinator for the remainder of the season, a position which he has held for most of his career. He also began his tenure at BYU in 2003 in the defensive coordinator position.

The firing of Hill also led to a series of responsibility shifts for staff members. Most notably, Kelly Poppinga was named as a full-time outside linebackers coach, elevated from his defensive graduate assistant post. Nick Howell moves from outside linebackers coach to secondary coach.

Additional team responsibilities would be shifted to Assistant Head Coach Lance Reynolds, Football Operations Director Duane Busby and administrative assistant Carey Hoki.

Mendenhall said fired Hill because of differences in coaching and leadership philosophies, but he also wanted to have more influence over his team.

"I think my influence on the defense -- that's what I consider my strength, it's where I think I can have the most leverage, and it's where I think I can influence our program the most," Mendenhall said.

Contacted over the weekend by KSL Newsradio, Hill said he was the "scapegoat" and BYU had "no reason" to fire him.

Mendenhall said the scapegoat comment was "not accurate."

Hill did not return calls to KSL Newsradio when asked for further comment Monday.

Mendenhall hopes taking over as defensive coordinator will instill some "heart" and "soul" into his team.

"I don't think right now we're getting their personal best, and that is something that is the most lingering issue to me that I really want to help them with, and maybe they haven't seen it from me," Mendenhall said.

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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