Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
After 16 seasons as an assistant coach, including the past two years as the defensive coordinator for the Cougars, Bronco Mendenhall has been promoted to head football coach at Brigham Young University. Mendenhall becomes the 14th head coach since the University first officially recognized football as an intercollegiate sport in 1922. He will assume his position immediately.
"I am humbled by my new responsibilities," Mendenhall said. "This is a great honor and I am determined to return BYU to national prominence. BYU fans can expect leadership from the coaching staff and a team that will play as hard as it possibly can. We will continue to have an aggressive defense, along with an up-tempo, high-powered offense. Our goal is to be as exciting and as competitive as any team in the country."
Mendenhall's promotion was announced by University President Cecil O. Samuelson on Monday, Dec. 13, 2004. He was originally hired as the defensive coordinator at BYU on Dec. 17, 2002, and will continue to call the defense for the Cougars.
"I am excited about what Coach Mendenhall brings to our football team and the University," Samuelson said. "His motivational skills and emphasis on discipline and character will enhance our program. He has earned the respect of his players, his fellow coaches and the University administration. We look forward to cheering on the new coach and his team this fall."
Mendenhall (38)--the second youngest NCAA Division I-A head coach in the country--has served the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the Cougars. During his first season in Provo, Mendenhall engineered the nation's 14th-ranked defense, holding opponents to just 307 yards per game. Under Mendenhall's direction, the Cougars ranked eighth nationally in passing defense, giving up just 176.17 yards per game.
"Bronco's leadership ability will focus on enhancing all aspects of our players' lives at BYU," said Senior Associate Atheltics Director Tom Holmoe said. "His tremendous work ethic and ability to draw on our student-athlete's best potential will give the Cougars a great chance to get back on top."
In 2004, the Cougars ranked third in the Mountain West in rushing defense, allowing 149.3 yards per game. The Cougars also ranked second in the league, with 34 sacks for a combined loss of 232 yards.
"Bronco is an outstanding football coach," Colorado State Head Coach Sonny Lubick said. "I know he will do whatever he can to help BYU's program. He is very familiar with the conference and that is a tremendous asset."
A native of Alpine, Utah, Mendenhall began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1989 at his alma mater, Oregon State. After earning his master's degree in 1990, he moved to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, where he served as the secondary coach and defensive coordinator from 1991-92 under current BYU assistant coach Paul Tidwell.
Following two seasons with the Badgers, Mendenhall became the secondary coach at Northern Arizona, where the Lumberjacks boasted the top-ranked defense in the Big Sky Conference. He was elevated to co-defensive coordinator for the 1994 season.
In 1995, Mendenhall returned to Oregon State to become the defensive line coach under then defensive coordinator Rocky Long. When Long left to become the defensive coordinator at UCLA, Mendenhall was promoted to defensive coordinator for the 1996 season. At just 29 years of age, Mendenhall was the youngest defensive coordinator in Pac-10 history.
In 1997, Mendenhall became the secondary coach at Louisiana Tech where he helped the Bulldogs to a remarkable 9-2 record as his defensive unit was credited with 17 interceptions, allowing just 15 touchdowns on the season.
In 1998, Mendenhall moved to Albuquerque, N.M., to become the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at the University of New Mexico. Over the next five seasons, the Lobos improved from just three wins in 1998 to seven wins and an invitation to the Las Vegas Bowl in 2002. In the Lobos' 27-13 loss against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Mendenhall-led defense held the Bruins to a season-low 167 yards.
Under Mendenhall, the Lobos led the Mountain West Conference in rushing defense for three straight seasons. In 2001, New Mexico gave up just 87.4 yards per game over the season. In his final season in Albuquerque, Mendenhall led the Lobos to a top ranking against league opponents in total defense, allowing just 316.4 yards per game. The Lobos also led the MWC in sacks in both the 2000 and 2002 season, totaling 46 and 38, respectively.
At New Mexico, Mendenhall played a valuable role in the development of the 1999 Mountain West Player of the Year, Consensus All-American and first-round draft pick Brian Urlacher. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft, Urlacher was voted the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year and was a Pro Bowl selection. Urlacher was one of two rookies to play all 16 games, starting at middle linebacker the final 14 games to establish a team record for starts at the position by a rookie. He shattered Bears rookie records with 165 total tackles and eight sacks, making him the second Chicago first-year player to lead the team in tackles. Urlacher finished his career at New Mexico third on New Mexico's all-time list with 442 tackles.
"Bronco is an excellent football coach," Long said. "He is a good choice for BYU because he has all the right qualities that the school is looking for in a head coach. I think he will do a great job."
Following the 2002 season, Mendenhall left UNM to become the defensive coordinator for the Cougars.
"Coming to BYU is a fantastic opportunity for me and my family," Mendenhall said after arriving in Provo in 2002. "I feel a tremendous responsibility to continue the great tradition of BYU football. The goal is for our defense to play an important role in the future success of the BYU football program."
As a player, Mendenhall was a two-year starter at cornerback for Snow College from 1984-85. In his second season, Mendenhall captained the Badgers to a perfect 11-0 record and the NJCAA National Championship. That same season, he earned many accolades, including first-team all-conference, all-region, second-team NJCAA All-America and JC Gridwire Academic All-America honors.
Mendenhall transferred to Oregon State and was a two-year starter, playing free safety, strong safety and linebacker for the Beavers. Mendenhall was a team captain as a senior and received the Leo Gribkoff Memorial Award, given to the team's most inspirational player.
Mendenhall was raised in Alpine, Utah, and graduated from American Fork High School in 1984. He received a bachelor's degree in education from Oregon State in 1988 and a master's degree in education with an emphasis in exercise physiology also from OSU in 1990.
His older brother, Mat, played football at BYU from 1975-79, before spending four years in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. Another brother, Marty, was a former Mr. Utah bodybuilder. Mendenhall's father, Paul, was a defensive end at BYU from 1953-54.
Mendenhall, who resides in Alpine, Utah, is married to the former Holly Johnston of Missoula, Mont. The couple have three sons: Cutter (5), Breaker (3) and Raeder (18 mo.).
The Mendenhall File
Name: Bronco C. Mendenhall
Hometown: Alpine, Utah
Wife: Holly Johnston (Missoula, Montana)
Children: Cutter (5), Breaker (3), Raeder (18 mo.)
Parents: Paul and Lenore Mendenhall (Alpine, Utah)
American Fork High School (1984)
Oregon State (1988; B.S., Physical Education)
Oregon State (1990; Masters of Education, Exercise Physiology)
American Fork H.S. (1980-83)
Snow College (1984-85) JC Gridwire All-American; Team Captain; NJCAA National Champions (11-0)
Oregon State (1986-87)
Two-year starter; Played safety and linebacker; Team Captain ('87); Leo Gribkoff Memorial Award ('87)
Oregon State -- 1989-90 Graduate Assistant; Defensive Line
Snow College -- 1991-92
Defensive Coordinator; Secondary
Northern Arizona -- 1993-94
Co-defensive Coordinator; Secondary (1994)
Oregon State 1995-96
Defensive Line (1995)
Defensive Coordinator; Secondary (1996)
Louisiana Tech (1997)
New Mexico (1998-2002)
Defensive Coordinator; Secondary (1998-02)
Assistant Head Coach (2002)
Las Vegas Bowl (vs. UCLA) - 2002
Brigham Young (2003-present)
Defensive Coordinator (2003-present)
BYU Cougar Club Assistant Coach of the Year Award (2003)
Head Coach (2005-present)