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OGDEN — It's only been a couple of weeks since Weber State head football coach Jay Hill left the school to take the defensive coordinator position at BYU. Since then, the search has been on for the first time in 10 years for the Wildcats' new head coach.
That the search is now over.
"I'm very, very grateful for the opportunity to be the next head coach at Weber State," Mental said in a statement. "… We have a tremendous group of players and staff that make this a special place. I feel very blessed and honored to be the next coach here and can't wait to hit the ground running."
Since Hill's departure, Mental had been serving as the interim head coach while administration conducted a coaching search. Mental and the remaining staff had been hard at work recruiting and getting set for the early signing day on Dec. 21.
"After a nationwide search to replace coach Hill, it is clear to us that coach Mental gives our football program the best opportunity for success moving forward," athletic director Tim Crompton said. "We are excited for him and our football staff and we look forward to seeing them get back in action next fall."
Mental just completed his first year as offensive coordinator at a Division I level — all his prior experience came at the Division II level and some in the high school ranks. Mental spent 13 years at Notre Dame College, where he was offensive coordinator for five years and head coach for the last two years before leaving for Weber State.
As a head coach at Notre Dame College, he led the team to a 16-2 record, with one of those years being shortened and played in the spring due to COVID-19. His offenses were regularly near the top of many statistical categories and typically averaged 30 or more points per game.
In his one season as offensive coordinator at Weber State under Hill, Mental took an already successful offense and made it even better. The Wildcats went from averaging 31 points per game in 2021 to 35 points per game in 2022, and the offense seemed to run more smoothly overall.
Quarterback Bronson Barron — who's currently in the transfer portal — threw for nearly 1,000 more yards under Mental than he did previously; and the run game was more prominent in Mental's offense. Weber State's three leading rushers each ran for more yards in his new system than they did before.
While Hill was known more for his defensive and special teams prowess, hiring an offensive-minded head coach will give a different look at a recently successful program. Weber State made it to the FCS playoffs six times in Hill's nine seasons as head coach, and Mental will be charged with keeping that momentum going forward.