According to the article, "the pregame firesides have become a visible -- and popular -- display of the program's priorities under [Coach Mendenhall]."
Prior to Coach Mendenhall's arrival at BYU three years ago, the team would watch movies the night before a game. But he wanted something that would call out the "spiritual" aspect of BYU.
"The players have taken ownership in the fireside program. These days, starting linebacker Matt Bauman is in charge of fielding volunteers for speaking assignments, which are filled well in advance. Doman said they don't have to encourage players to participate because they grasp the motivation for holding the events -- what he calls the 'cause.'"
The players contend that "the program's emphasis on spirituality has served as a unifying force" for the Cougars, who've gone 32-6 under Coach Mendenhall.
Said one player:
"Coach Mendenhall's done a good job of focusing us on what we have in common, and what we have that separates us or distinguishes us. I think because we focus a lot on our faith and service … it brings the team closer together. From what I've noticed, that's the biggest thing. Everybody's getting along. Offensive guys are good friends with defensive guys. It's just a better team atmosphere."
Clearly, BYU is unique in that the school has a strong affiliation with Mormon Church. But the idea of finding ways to bring players together where they can learn about (and from) each other is an interesting one.