The practice of paying college athletes moved a little closer to reality on Thursday when the NCAA Board of Directors approved more autonomy for Power 5 conference programs to write their own rules and policies.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has mixed feelings about the decision.
“If the true intent is to benefit the student-athletes and their well-being, within reason, I’m for parts of those ideas,” Mendenhall said. “In the discussions I’ve been part of, I wish I could say sincerely that is the motive, but it’s usually it’s just who has the most money, who can provide more for the sake of themselves and their program.”
The Power 5 conferences will also have the power to enact policies such as governing contact between players and agents, letting players pursue outside paid opportunities and covering full cost of college attendance.
“From my early discussions with Tom (BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe), our intention will be to provide what’s worth following and pursue all those things we perceive have real and true value to the student-athlete and BYU,” Mendenhall said. “In the world of chasing the Big 5, we’ll chase what’s appropriate, what will benefit our student-athletes, not only on the field but off, and also within reason.”
Mendenhall pointed out that according to various reports, only 15-to-25 of the 120-plus Football Bowl Subdivision programs actually make money. BYU is one of those programs that is annually in the black.
“Budget alone, as we know, doesn’t determine outcome of games,” he said. “I’m not sure this will have a giant effect on BYU, but it might on others. Most of the kids who come to BYU come for really specific reasons anyway. As this comes up (in recruiting) and our policy becomes clearer, it will become a non-issue.”
“It will be an interesting time period for college football and an interesting time period for the student-athlete.”
Getting him ready: Mendenhall said backup quarterback Christian Stewart has taken more reps than the No. 2 has seen in previous seasons.
“With the nature of the offense we play, even though Tayson (Hill) is durable and he’s fast, even though he is tough, there’s a chance that a mobile quarterback could go down at some point, so you have to prepare for it,” he said.
Business as usual: Hill said how much he runs is determined by what the defense shows.
“We take what the defense gives us,” he said. “In the run game, it’s all about the read. If the defense takes the run from Jamal (Williams) or Adam (Hine), it’s on me. It would be nice to run less and save my body, but if that’s what they’re gonna give us, that’s what we’re gonna do.”
This is the plan: After consecutive practices in full pads, BYU will hold its first two-a-day practices on Friday. Mendenhall said it would be a lighter two-a-day regime because the team will hold its first full contact scrimmage on Saturday with a “significant number of plays.”
More Algie: Algernon Brown’s return to practice after clearing up his academic issues has been a relief to the coaches.
“With Algie back, I feel good (about depth),” Mendenhall said. “With Algie not out there practicing, we were thin. Barring injury and when Jamal is back after Game 1, I like our depth a lot. If we lose one running back along the way, we become thin.”
Scheduling the big boys: While discussing the latest NCAA move with the Power 5, Mendenhall made a push for more games against teams from those conferences.
“By the way, I’d like to play more of them,” he said. “Just so I can be on the record that way.”
The BYU way: Nebraska transfer Harvey Jackson is still in the mix for playing time at safety, but the adjustment to the BYU way of life has been a challenge.
“He’s picking up the defense quickly,” Mendenhall said. “I asked him the other day about being at BYU. He said you have to be special to be here and I asked him what that meant. He said you have to want to live the standards that not many people want to live and you have to try harder than you ever thought you would try. He said he was more tired now that he’s ever been in his life.”
Debuts: Former Cougars Cody Hoffman, Ethyn Manumaleuna and Daniel Sorensen could see their first NFL action tonight in the preseason. Hoffman and the Washington Redskins host New England and Manumaleuna, and Sorensen will play for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Cincinnati Bengals.