Mendenhall: Officials made right call

While Brigham Young prepares to face UCLA this weekend, the Cougars’ last game remains a controversial topic in college football.

The Huskies appeared poised to send Saturday’s game against BYU into overtime when quarterback Jake Locker scored a touchdown with two seconds left. But he threw the ball in the air, drawing a 15-yard celebration penalty, and Cougars defensive end Jan Jorgensen blocked the 35-yard extra-point attempt to preserve a 28-27 victory in Seattle.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall indicated Tuesday that he might have declined the penalty if he thought it was an egregious call and if the statistics didn’t indicate a superior team (BYU outgained Washington 475 yards to 337).

"I think they had a play left to decide the better team," Mendenhall said. "It was not one, but three or four who could’ve blocked the kick, and even moving it 15 yards further back, it was reasonable to make the kick.

"The penalty should’ve been called. If I hadn’t felt that way, I possibly would’ve considered something else."

• SEMI-FAMILIAR OPPONENTS — The Cougars will play UCLA for the third time in two seasons Saturday in Provo, Utah, all three with a different Bruins head coach.

Karl Dorrell guided UCLA to a 27-17 regular-season victory over BYU last year in Pasadena, Calif., and the Cougars won 17-16 in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl as DeWayne Walker served as the Bruins’ interim coach.

Now Rick Neuheisel is in charge.

"While we’re familiar with the personnel and it’s the same school, I’m not sure it’s the same team," Mendenhall said.

Both UCLA coordinators have ties to BYU.

Walker, the defensive coordinator, was BYU’s secondary coach in 1994.

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow first developed his strong reputation as a playcaller while with the Cougars. Chow coached at BYU from 1973 to 1999, spending 18 of those seasons as offensive coordinator.

"I think he’s an excellent playcaller and has the right complement of the right type of plays and in what formations," Mendenhall said. "It isn’t the most explosive, but it’s so well-thought out."

• GETTING CROWDED — Usually it’s obvious fairly early in the season which non-Bowl Championship Series team is most likely to make one of the elite bowl games.

Not this time.

In the Mountain West Conference No. 18 BYU, No. 22 Utah and even Texas Christian could make that claim, in the Western Athletic Conference No. 21 Fresno State and in Conference USA No. 14 East Carolina.

But don’t count on two teams making BCS games.

Even though Utah (2004 season) and Boise State (2006 season) each won the Fiesta Bowl during their breakthrough seasons, Hawaii might have ruined any such chance with its 41-10 loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl last season.

"That’s a great question, and perhaps only the bowls could answer that," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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