Bronco Mendenhall

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Bronco Mendenhall, former head football coach at BYU

Bronco Mendenhall is head football coach at the University of Virginia, having signed a five-year contract on December 4, 2015. He announced his departure from Brigham Young University on December 5 at a press conference, citing a desire for change, growth, and development as his reasons for leaving. He had been head coach for eleven years. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes casually called the Mormon Church or LDS Church.

At BYU, he had the second-most wins in school history and guided the Cougars to eleven straight bowl invitations, two outright conference championships and regular national Top 25 rankings. More than 60 of Mendenhall's players have been signed to NFL contracts since 2005. He is also known for graduating his players, and ranking his former program seventh for most Academic All-Americans during his tenure.[1]

Mendenhall grew up in Alpine, Utah, and graduated from American Fork High School in Utah in 1984, the year BYU was first in the country in football. 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.


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. He earned both a bachelor's (Physical Education) and a master's degree (Exercise Physiology). He served as a graduate assistant coach at Oregon State.

From 1991 to 1993 he was the defensive coordinator for Snow College in Utah. From 1995 to 1996 he was the defensive coordinator for Oregon State. Then in 1997 he was the secondary coach for Louisianna Tech. From 1998 to 2002, he served as the defensive coordinator for the University of New Mexico, where he and head coach Rocky Long developed a blitz-happy 3-3-5 defensive scheme. [2]

In 2003 Mendenhall accepted the job to serve as defensive coordinator at BYU under then-head coach Gary Crowton. After three straight losing seasons, Crowton resigned. The position was offered to Kyle Whittingham, who also had an offer from the University of Utah, which he accepted. Mendenhall had plans to become the defensive coordinator for UNLV, but the BYU players had wanted him to become the head coach at BYU. Because of this, Mendenhall was the first to be interviewed after Whittingham's decision. He took over the head coaching job for the 2005 season.

The Cougars finished the regular 2005 season with a 6-5 record. They appeared in the Las Vegas Bowl, their first bowl game since 2001, falling to California 35-28. In both 2006 and 2007, the Cougars went 11-2 and were Mountain West Champions. In 2008 they were 10-3, and then 11-2 again in 2009. They played in the Las Vegas bowl each year. All four seasons, 2006 - 2009, BYU has been ranked among the top 25 college teams in the nation. Under his leadership, the Cougars have earned a 49-15 record--the best record of any first-time head coach over the past five seasons and a mark topped by only 11 programs overall. "Mendenhall has led BYU to bowl wins in three of the last four years while achieving a 43-9 record in that span, a ledger topped by only four teams--Boise State, Florida, Texas and Ohio State. In doing so, the Cougars have achieved four straight seasons with 10 or more wins for the first time in school history. Only Boise State, Ohio State, Texas and Virginia Tech have equaled BYUs consistency in recording double-digit wins each of the last four seasons." [3]

Following the 2006 season, Mendenhall was named the American Football Coaches Association Region IV Coach of the Year. In addition, Mendenhall was named by the Football Writers Association of America one of nine finalists for the prestigious Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

Mendenhall is married to the former Holly Johnston of Missoula, Montana. They have three sons.