(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
BYU football head coach Bronco Mendenhall received high marks from the Sporting News this week in the publication's ranking of all 124 FBS head coaches.
Coach Mendenhall received a No. 15 overall ranking among all of his peers and was rated the top coach among the nation's independent programs as well as in-state schools. Sporting News national college football writers Steve Greenberg and Matt Hayes compiled the rankings. Their analysis of Coach Mendenhall?
"Unlike most coaches, Mendenhall isn’t obsessed with the job. He’s more consumed about using the coaching platform as his ministry and teaching. If winning games is part of that, all the better. Maybe that’s why he has five double-digit win seasons in seven years, and is averaging nearly 10 wins a season. Even in the glorious history of LaVell Edwards, BYU never had a run of four straight seasons with at least 10 wins like it had under Mendenhall (2006-09). He’ll be at BYU as long as he wants. There couldn’t be a more perfect fit. A BCS coach says: 'Definitely a thinker. He’s a unique guy who sees way beyond the Xs and Os. A lot of us could see the game, the job, like he does and not be so attached to every little aspect of it all.' ”
Mendenhall was preceded on the list by Georgia's Mark Richt at No. 14 and followed by Texas' Mack Brown at No. 16. Mendenhall ranks first among independent programs with Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly also receiving a top-20 ranking at No. 18.
Five schools on BYU's 2012 schedule are headed by a coach ranked in the top 25 by the Sporting News. The Cougars will face Boise State (Chris Peterson, No. 2), Washington State (Mike Leach, No. 17), Notre Dame (Kelly, No. 18), Georgia Tech (Paul Johnson, No. 19), and Utah (Kyle Whittingham, No. 21) during the upcoming season.
Stating that "Mendenhall knows how to win," the Sporting News certainly took note that Mendenhall has achieved a 66-24 record for a .733 winning percentage over the past seven seasons since taking over a BYU program that had suffered three-straight losing campaigns. Interestingly, though not directly mentioned in the Sporting News analysis, BYU's record under Mendenhall certainly lends credence to his No. 15 ranking as only 14 teams have more wins than the Cougars during Mendenhall's tenure in Provo.
Under his leadership, BYU has established itself among the nation's top programs according to a variety of markers.
• As just mentioned, BYU ranks 15th nationally for the most wins over the past seven seasons with 66.
• BYU has been nationally ranked during six of the past seven seasons and finished in the final Top 25 rankings five of the past six years.
• BYU is one of 11 programs to receive a final Top 25 ranking in at least one of the two major polls during five of the past six seasons. The Cougars are one of nine to do so in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
• BYU has received final national rankings of No. 12, No. 14, No. 15, No. 21, and No. 25 during the last seven years, achieving rankings as high as No. 7 during two different seasons.
• BYU has won 10 or more games during five of the last seven seasons. Only four teams have achieved more in that span (Va. Tech 7, Boise State 6, Ohio State 6, TCU 6), while Texas and Oklahoma are the only other schools to equal BYU's five 10-win seasons over the last seven years.
• BYU has earned a bowl invitation each of the last seven seasons under Bronco Mendenhall, with a 5-2 bowl record. The Cougars are one of only seven schools to win five of their last six bowl games.
• BYU has been ranked in the Top 25 of various NCAA statistical categories 88 times in Bronco Mendenhall’s seven seasons (46 offense, 32 defense, 9 special teams, 1 misc.). In that span, BYU has achieved 55 top-15 ratings, 37 top-10 and 19 top-5 ratings.
• BYU is tied for third among FBS schools for the most Academic All-America citations during the past seven seasons. BYU and Notre Dame have seven, trailing only Penn State (16) and Nebraska (9).
• BYU has also ranked among the top FBS programs in the number of National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society honorees. The Cougars have had players honored every year since the recognition began in 2007 and have either led or had the second-most players awarded among FBS programs each of the last three years. BYU had the most honorees in 2010, tied for the most awarded in 2011 and were tied for the second-most players recognized in the recently announced 2012 class.
Alabama's Nick Saban received the top ranking on the list. Here are links to the overall Sporting News rankings and rankings by conference.