Bronco Mendenhall, Head Coach
Bronco Mendenhall enters his second season as the head football coach at Brigham Young University. In his first year at the helm, he guided the Cougars to their first winning season and first bowl appearance since 2001. BYU finished the 2005 regular season at 6-5 and lost to California, 35-28, in the Las Vegas Bowl.
During the 2005 season, the Cougars finished second in the Mountain West Conference with a 5-3 record. Mendenhall and his staff coached an offense reminiscent of BYU’s glory days, ranking second in the MWC in scoring and sixth in the nation in passing. This season, Mendenhall will lead the Cougars against non-conference opponents Arizona, Tulsa, Boston College and Utah State, as well as a competitive conference schedule.
After 16 seasons as an assistant coach, including two years as the defensive coordinator for BYU, Bronco Mendenhall was promoted to head football coach on December 13, 2004. Mendenhall became the 14th head coach since the University first officially recognized football as an intercollegiate sport in 1922.
Mendenhall (39)--one of the youngest NCAA Division I-A head coaches in the country-- served as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach for the Cougars during the 2003 and 2004 season. 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.
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.
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 NFL 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 collegiate career ranked third on New Mexico’s all-time list with 442 tackles.
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, Breaker and Raeder.