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PROVO, Utah (December 17, 2002) -- BYU head football coach Gary Crowton announced today the hiring of Bronco Mendenhall as defensive coordinator for the Cougars. Mendenhall fills the vacancy left by the retirement of Ken Schmidt earlier this month. Mendenhall comes to BYU from the University of New Mexico, where he has been the defensive coordinator and associate head coach under Rocky Long.
"Coming to BYU is a fantastic opportunity for me and my family. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had at UNM and I will miss the association with the players, coaches, staff and fans," said Mendenhall. "I look forward to working with Coach Crowton. He is a super person, a great family man and a brilliant football strategist. I feel a tremendous responsibility to continue the great tradition of BYU football.
"We will bring an aggressive blitz-based defense to BYU that thrives on effort and disruption and confusing the opposing offense. The goal is for our defense to play an important role in the future success of the BYU football program."
Prior to joining the Lobo coaching staff in 1998, Mendenhall served as defensive secondary coach at Louisiana Tech for one year under Crowton. That season he helped engineer a remarkable 9-2 record as his secondary intercepted 17 passes, while allowing just 15 touchdowns.
"I have known Bronco for quite some time and have enjoyed our association over the years," said Crowton. "He is an outstanding coach, motivator and recruiter. He brings a wealth of credibility, experience and energy to our coaching staff and I'm pleased to have him as part of the program."
Mendenhall began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1990 at his alma mater Oregon State. The following year he moved to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, where he served as secondary coach and defensive coordinator from 1991-92 under current BYU assistant coach Paul Tidwell. In 1993, Mendenhall became the secondary coach at Northern Arizona, where the Lumberjacks boasted the No. 1 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 after the season, Mendenhall was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1996. At just 29 years of age, he became the youngest defensive coordinator in Pac-10 history.
As a player, Mendenhall was a two-year starter at cornerback for Snow College from 1985-86. In his second season, Mendenhall captained the Badgers to a perfect 11-0 record and a junior college national championship. That same season, he earned many accolades, including first-team all-conference and all-region, second-team NJCAA All-American and JC Grid Wire Academic All-American.
Mendenhall transferred to Oregon State and was a two-year starter at free safety, strong safety and linebacker. 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 OSU in 1989 and a master's degree in education with a focus in exercise physiology also from OSU in 1990.
Mendenhall's 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 .
Bronco and his wife Holly have two boys, Cutter (3) and Breaker (1), and are expecting a third child in June.