BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall opened up at media days about why he thinks that BYU lost out on prized recruit linebacker Manti Te'o, he eventually signed with Notre Dame. When asked the question if BYU was close to signing Te'o, Mendenhall's response was "I don't think we were close."
Mendenhall feels that it was something that was unrelated to playing football at BYU, but rather hinting that Te'o turned down BYU because Mendenhall's urges players to go and serve a church mission. It seems from reading Mendenhall's comments that he was not just urging but made it seem that if you are of the religion then it is your responsibility to go serve a mission.
Here is exactly what Mendenhall said:
"I am going to try to stereotype as best I can, so I protect their family and BYU. Usually when a young man who is LDS -- a member of our church -- has things presented as clearly as he had it presented to him and choses not to come, there usually is a reason they don't want to come."
"And it is usually not football-related. And so Manti chose a private institution, with a religious background without truly the same semblance of rules, or an honor code, like BYU has. It would be great if we don't go into specifics, but my guess is there was something that he didn't want about BYU, and chose elsewhere. And that's OK."
Is Mendenhall also saying that Manti Te'o did not choose BYU because of the honor code? Personally I do not think that is the case, but rather his decision has to do with the suggestions coming from Mendenhall himself of Te'o serving his church for two years away from football. Then with his visit to Notre Dame, head coach Charlie Weis made sure he was comfortable and found a local Bishop for Te'o to meet.
It is widely known that Mendenhall does not put any stock into the recruiting services and has said that we do not recruit football players but rather the players recruit us. This is somewhat bizarre but his latest quote on the recruiting services is quite amusing:
"Some guy that drives a pizza truck at night and then is giving stars to recruits in the day, and he's an expert? I don't adhere to that philosophy.
And so I put no value in [stars], I put value in the fit of the kid. And if he happens to be a five-star recruit, and he doesn't come in and say, what can I do for the good of the team? Then I have recruited the wrong kid."
He can say what he wants about these recruiting services, but more often than not
Back to the BYU situation, sometimes it seems that Mendenhall acts like his school is better than other schools by saying if kids want to play at BYU it is the athletes who recruits BYU, and that Mendenhall does not want to have to convience teenagers to come play football at BYU.