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San Diego • BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and San Diego State coach Rocky Long have been friends and football coaching colleagues for more than 20 years, but Mendenhall wasn't about to tell his former mentor who will start at quarterback for the Cougars in Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl.

We know that, because Long asked in Wednesday's annual day-before-the-bowl news conference.

"Can you tell me now?" Long asked, after saying he expects BYU to play both Riley Nelson and James Lark.

Replied Mendenhall, shaking his head: "I like to build the intrigue. It's good for ratings."

The Salt Lake Tribune has reported all week that Lark has been told he will get the start. Mendenhall reiterated Wednesday that Lark is "the healthier of the two quarterbacks right now … but that doesn't mean both won't play."

Then the coach tipped his hand a little bit, saying he always believed Lark was capable of playing well and that he is "hopeful that he will be able to demonstrate that tomorrow."

Nelson said Tuesday night that he had not been given a definitive answer on whether he will start, or how much he will play.

"You are kind of stuck in limbo," he said, describing himself.

Good for Gary

Mendenhall did not know that Utah State coach Gary Andersen took the Wisconsin job late Tuesday night until he was asked about Andersen leaving during Wednesday's 10:30 a.m. PST news conference.

"He is an excellent coach, and very deserving," Mendenhall said. "I am sad for the folks at Utah State. … I think [coaches building strong relationships with their communities] is one of the unique things about college football, and if we aren't careful, it will become more NFL-like."

Stay or go?

Mendenhall said Wednesday that he has talked to All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy a lot about Van Noy's pending decision on whether to return to BYU for his senior season or enter the NFL Draft. Mendenhall said he hasn't talked nearly as much about it with BYU's other junior who is considering a jump to the NFL, receiver Cody Hoffman.

"Cody, I don't think is considering it nearly as strongly as Kyle is and was," Mendenhall said.

Both players have said they won't decide until after the bowl game.


The Poinsettia Bowl's record for attendance is 48,049, set two years ago when SDSU defeated Navy 35-14 on Dec. 23. It was 39,129 when Utah downed Navy in 2007. Officials said more than 40,000 tickets have been sold for Thursday's game. … SDSU has received the ball first in 14 straight games, the longest such streak in the country. …. The Cougars will wear white jersey tops, and either blue pants or white pants in the game. Long said that BYU got first choice of locker rooms, but "was nice enough" to let SDSU have its usual locker room at Qualcomm Stadium, which the players refer to as "Aztec Warrior Stadium." —

Poinsettia Bowl

BYU vs. San Diego State

Thursday, 6 p.m. MST


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