Former NFL running back and ESPN commentator Merril Hoge’s salty assault on BYU’s coaching decision to move his son from quarterback to running back and receiver was as unique as it was embarrassing.
It’s historically rare for a parent to be given free rein to run down and do some name-calling at a coach on what amounts to a national forum on BYUtv’s own media organ. But it happened on "BYU Sports Nation."
Former NFL All-Pro Merril Hoge called BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb just a “linebacker coach” and said the move was “bizarre,” “smelly as anything he’s ever seen,” and “dumb.”
Now, no coaches are above criticism. They are public figures and it comes with the territory. But this public airing of passionate, raw feelings by a dad over a coaching decision quickly became news. That just doesn’t happen, especially on a university’s own station while its coaches and players are toiling away in the hot sun a few blocks away trying to find a way to win.
I fully feel for Merril. In more than four decades, I’ve spoken in-depth to many parents of quarterbacks who’ve shared their sensitive feelings about decisions made about their sons. In almost every case, it was off the record because they did not want to hurt their sons and make things tough for them.
Hoge was especially disturbed that Lamb was the one conversing with Beau about a position change, and said he was just a linebacker coach. In fact, Lamb is the assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and a chief person on staff when it comes to scholarship allocations and administration of such affairs, as delegated to do so by head coach Kalani Sitake. It was Lamb who, as head coach at SUU, took BYU’s prep team quarterback Brad Sorensen and turned him into an NFL draft pick by the San Diego Chargers.
Merril said BYU wouldn't let Beau compete. He called it "stupid" and a waste of talent. "In 44 years, I've never heard that a coach wouldn't let a player compete."
He decried that new coaches who come in have no allegiance to players they didn't recruit and that bothers him.
Hoge got moved to another position for myriad reasons. Fear of investing in a concussion-prone QB who can’t protect himself at that position as well as at RB, where he can anticipate and protect himself; the full recovery of senior quarterback Tanner Mangum; and the strong showing of freshman Zach Wilson in spring practice.
BYU had to get it down to two serviceable competing QBs. Beau was out.
Bitter and angry? Yes.
Advisable? Heck no.
That he went public with it with sound bites that can hurt the program as a guy who not only has a son on the team but also a nephew too in O-lineman and Notre Dame transfer Tristen Hoge? Not cool.
What was cool is a tweet later in the day by Beau Hoge, the son.
Everyone has said things they wish they’d taken back. I know I have. I bet this is one interview Merril wishes he had a mulligan to use.
This kind of talk is best done between men behind closed doors.
But it does make for summer fall camp entertainment. Even on BYUtv.