Saturday, May 13, 2006

Men on a Mission

Over a 30-year period, hundreds of players at Brigham Young have interrupted their playing careers to serve a two-year mission for the Latter Day Saints Church. Critics say this gives the Cougars, being led on the field last season by coach Bronco Mendenhall, an unfair advantage. Players not only retain all of their remaining eligibility after completing their mission, but they are wiser and often more physically developed upon their return. But a mission can also have the opposite effect, forcing the BYU staff to be innovative to meet church requirements. For example: One player serving in Ecuador got sick twice and lost 25 pounds. And when church authorities in Ecuador banned weightlifting, the Cougar staff developed an exercise program with rubber bands. "We operate under the premise here that even though the players will contribute when they come home that first year, it won't be at the same level as it would after they've been home for a full year," Mendenhall said.

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