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I had my final twice-weekly morning interview with BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall this morning on KSL Newsradio in the "Coach's Corner." You can hear the entire interview by clicking the audio link in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the lower right.
Roughly a minute into the interview, I ask the coach about Max Hall's postgame comments and ensuing apology. Among the things Bronco said:
"Anytime the rivalry becomes personal...you certainly have a tendency to view the opponent in a much different light."
"I don't think... the venue (Max) chose to express those thoughts was appropriate, but I think he spoke from his heart and he said what he believed."
"(Max) has done his best through an apology very specific to certain elements of what he said to make it clearer."
"(Max) is a great leader, he's a great kid, and he has my support."
Asked if he respected Max for the way he handled the situation, Bronco said "Absolutely."
"The apology he issued (came) from him and no one else... if anyone thinks they've influenced his apology, that's a mistake; he woke up, did all of that on his own... I haven't talked to Max yet, nor has anyone else from our coaching staff. Max has done this completely on his own."
Asked about potential postseason destinations, Mendenhall said "basically it would just be hard for anyone to pass us up at this point."
Seeing as the Las Vegas Bowl has first crack at available MWC bowl teams, I take his comment to mean that he fully expects Vegas to roll the dice on BYU for a fifth straight year.
As a personal post-script to the Max Hall story...
I don't know him well, but I know that Max Hall is genuine. He's competitive, and he's sensitive. He always wants to do well, for more people than just himself. When he succeeds, he has no problem sharing the glory. Yet when he fails, he has no problem shouldering the blame alone.
Max Hall picked a highly visible moment to give us a glimpse into the heart of a wounded champion. A champion on that day, but wounded just the same.
What he said wasn't bluster and bravado, it wasn't manufactured "trash talk"...it was his vindication, it was his pain, it was his pride, and it was real.
Max Hall allowed percolating and coagulating emotions to blur the line between guilty parties and guilt by association. He attempted to rectify that mistake by apologizing, and I'm glad he did, once the light of the next day illuminated that particular mistake.
But it was not a mistake that his heart led him to say what he did on Saturday night. For it was "heart" that represented his three years as a starting quarterback, and it was "heart" that inspired teammates and coaches alike.
He was bruised and battered, on and off the field, but he never missed a game. BYU fans are sure going to miss him.