Bronco Mendenhall feels re-energized entering 10th season as BYU's head coach

By Jeff Call, Deseret News

Published: Sun, Aug. 24, 2014, 4:45 p.m. MDT

 BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is entering his 10th season as head coach of the Cougars.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is entering his 10th season as head coach of the Cougars.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO — When Bronco Mendenhall was promoted to head coach at BYU in December 2004, he never dreamed he would still be in this position a decade later.

Yet, here he is.

“That doesn’t even fit in terms of making sense,” he said of reaching that 10-year milestone. “If you would have asked me would I expect to make it to year 10, I said many times earlier that I didn’t expect to be here that long.”

Mendenhall could be around for quite a while longer. He signed a deal with BYU in the summer of 2013 that extended his contract through the 2016 season.

Of course, he acknowledges that the coaching profession takes its toll. “Coaching years are almost like dog years,” Mendenhall has said. “One year is like seven normal years.”

When he took the reins of the program, BYU was coming off of three consecutive losing seasons. Since 2005, Mendenhall has guided the Cougars to an 82-34 record and five finishes in the Associated Press Top 25.

During his tenure, Mendenhall has spent stints in a dual role as head coach and defensive coordinator. A couple of years ago, he relinquished his title of defensive coordinator and gave it to Nick Howell. This year, Mendenhall is giving the responsibility of defensive play-calling to Howell.

It’s part of his evolution as a head coach.

These days, Mendenhall’s spending more time with the offense, as well as handling overall head coaching responsibilities, and, as a result, he feels “re-energized,” he said.

“The position I’m in as head coach,” Mendenhall said, “it almost feels … new.”

Athletic director Tom Holmoe said Mendenhall has done “very well” as a head coach.

“He’s done an incredible job. There have been issues crop up and they always will,” Holmoe said. “I’ve had that experience of being a college head football coach. It’s a tough job. And it’s a really tough job at BYU. For all the things that you’ve heard and seen, I’ve seen so many more that don’t become public. In my opinion, he’s a really, really good overall football coach. That goes to things that happen behind the scenes.

"I’ve had this conversation with a number of people lately. You see coaches do or say crazy things. Most coaches become college coaches because they’ve had success as technical people in their sport. They’re generally focused on that one thing. Then they get into this incredible job at a Division I college football university and there’s a lot of other things that go with being a coach, not just how you do. In all those things, Bronco does a really good job at.”

Holmoe noted that Mendenhall is among the longest-tenured coaches in college football. “That’s amazing, for 127 teams,” Holmoe said.

Under Mendenhall, the Cougars rank No. 10 nationally in total wins since 2006 (76-28). BYU has posted five 10-win seasons since 2005, which is No. 10 nationally. Only nine teams have enjoyed more 10-win seasons over that span (Ohio State, Alabama, Boise State, Louisiana State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech, TCU and USC).

Plus, BYU is one of only 12 programs to receive a bowl invitation each of the past nine years.

Mendenhall is not only comfortable with the unique aspects of BYU, but he understands the expectations for the program. The Cougars are looking to improve on their 8-5 record last season.

"I've self-imposed — no one has imposed it on me — that the minimum standard is a top 25 ranking," Mendenhall has said. "That's what I believe is supposed to happen at BYU. … Expectations are top 25. To do that, you have to win double-digit (games). That’s just a yearly thing.”

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BYU 2-deep chart

Projections Brandon Gurney
Aug. 23, 2014
1. Riverton Cougar
Riverton, UT,
Aug. 24, 2014

"He said Utah was afraid of playing byU this weekend?"

Let me enlighten you on what the U AD Chris Hill says about that:

From a SLTrib article (July 2012):

"'What we have to do is make sure we don’t come close to overscheduling,' he said.

In Hill’s mind, playing both Michigan and BYU in the same years would have put the Utes in that situation.

'I can’t expect us to play 11 really, really difficult games in a season,' he said.

The Utes, who travel to Michigan in 2014 and host the Wolverines in the 2015 opener, viewed dropping the BYU game as the easiest solution. . . .

Hill said he plans to stick with his nonconference scheduling formula of playing a top-tier opponent, a mid-tier foe that the Utes should beat if they’re playing well and an FCS-type or lower-tier FBS opponent that the Utes should beat relatively easily."

So Michigan is the top-tier opponent. If BYU was a "mid-tier foe" then there wouldn't have been a problem. But it appears Chris Hill doesn't see it that way.

2. Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT,
Aug. 24, 2014

I like him. Hes neat!

3. Thid Barker
Victor, ID,
Aug. 25, 2014

I liked the message on Bronco's shirt:, "Its your life, honor it". What a great message to teach young men, which is supposed to be the point of sports and life!

4. 65TossPowerTrap
Salmon, ID,
Aug. 25, 2014

Whittingham and Patterson will be handing out resumes if they don't learn how to win in the "Big Boy" conferences. Sometimes you can take the team out of a mid-major conference, but you can't take the mid major out of the team.

5. Chamberlain
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 25, 2014

As Chris Hill said, "I can’t expect us to play 11 really, really difficult games in a season"

In other words, unlike the delusional kids on the hill, Utah's AD recognizes that BYU is a "top-tier opponent."

Hill also realizes that to have a chance at qualifying for a bowl, it's crucial for the Utes win at least 2 of their 3 OOC games, something that would be very difficult if the Utes were playing both BYU and Michigan in the same season.

In order to help themselves sleep at night, the kids on the hill will try to twist and turn and misinterpret and deny what Chris Hill said, but the truth is, Utah ran away from the rivalry in 2014 and 2015 because they were afraid of losing to BYU.

As even Utah fans have acknowledged, things are cyclical in college football, and the pendulum of winning close games was bound to swing back in BYU's favor.