Bronco Mendenhall Staff Bio | Head Football Coach

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Bronco Mendenhall


Head football coach

Years at BYU


Years Overall


Coaching Experience

Brigham Young (2003-present)

  • Head coach (2005-present)
  • Defensive Coordinator (2003-04)

New Mexico (1998-2002)

  • Assistant Head Coach (2002)
  • Defensive Coordinator; Secondary (1998-2002)

Louisiana Tech (1997)

  • Secondary

Oregon State (1995-96)

  • Defensive Coordinator; Secondary (1996)
  • Defensive Line (1995)

Northern Arizona (1993-94)

  • Co-Defensive Coordinator; Secondary (1994)
  • Secondary (1993)

Snow College (1991-92)

  • Defensive Coordinator; Secondary

Oregon State (1989-90)

  • Graduate Assistant; Defensive Line

Career Highlights

  • Guided BYU to nine straight bowl invitations
  • Won two outright conference championships and led the way into BYU football independence
  • Coached BYU to four consecutive bowl wins (2009-12), and has coached the Cougars to bowl wins against Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, UTEP, San Diego State and Tulsa
  • Achieved a 39-9 record in the Mountain West Conference

Playing Career

  • Two-year starter at Oregon State (1986-87)
  • Played safety and linebacker; Team Captain ('87)
  • Leo Gribkoff Memorial Award ('87) given to the most inspirational player
  • Played at Snow College JC (1984-85) and was a Gridwire All-American
  • Team Captain
  • NJCAA National Champions (11-0)
  • Played at American Fork H.S. (1980-83)


  • American Fork High School (1984)
  • Oregon State (1988; B.S., Phys. Ed.)
  • Oregon State (1990; Master's of Education, Exercise Physiology)


Alpine, Utah


  • Married to Holly Johnston of Missoula, Mont.
  • Has three sons
  • 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
  • Father, Paul, was a defensive end at BYU from 1953-54
Bronco Mendenhall

Entering his 10th season as head coach at Brigham Young University, Bronco Mendenhall has restored the Cougars’ reputation as one of the nation’s top college football programs. Taking over a BYU team that in 2005 was coming off three consecutive losing seasons, Mendenhall has guided his teams to nine straight bowl appearances, two outright conference championships before football independence in 2011, and regular national top-25 rankings. 

Under Mendenhall’s leadership, BYU has earned an 82-34 record to rank 12th in total wins among all FBS teams since 2005.  Mendenhall also ranks 12th in winning percentage at .707 among active coaches with at least five years of FBS experience.  

The Cougars finished the 2013 season with an 8-5 record after playing one of the toughest schedules in school history.  BYU earned six of its eight wins over bowl teams, including a 40-21 victory against the then-No. 15 Texas Longhorns, and faced nine bowl teams overall. 

Under Mendenhall BYU is one of only 12 programs to earn a bowl invitation each of the past nine years. Only Florida State (7) has achieved more than BYU's six bowl victories over that timeframe. 

The Cougars set a program record with four consecutive bowl wins from 2009-12, helping Mendenhall become the first BYU head coach to win six bowls in a seven-year span.  The Cougars received nine straight bowl invitations for the first time since a string of 17 consecutive bowl bids under Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards from 1978 through 1994. Mendenhall is the only coach in BYU football history to take his first nine teams to a bowl game, and is winning at the same pace as the legendary Edwards.  Through his 116 games as BYU head coach, Mendenhall has a record of 82-34—almost identical to Edwards’ 116-game mark of 83-32-1. As a program, BYU has averaged 8.8 wins per season over the last 40 years to  tie for fourth nationally in total victories with 353. Mendenhall's teams have improved upon that standard, having won 10 or more games five times while averaging 9.1 victories per year. 

In 2006, Mendenhall was named the American Football Coaches Association Region IV Coach of the Year following an 11-2 season. In addition, the Football Writers Association of America named Mendenhall one of nine finalists for the prestigious Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.  

He has also served as the defensive coordinator for much of his tenure as the head coach. BYU has consistently fielded one of the nation’s strongest defenses under Mendenhall’s direction.

Mendenhall’s defense excels at keeping opponents out of the end zone, averaging a No. 20 national ranking in scoring defense over the past eight seasons, including three top-10 ratings. In 2012, the Cougars featured one of the greatest defenses in school history, allowing just 266.1 yards, including 86.9 rushing yards, and 14.0 points per game. Ranked No. 3 in total defense, No. 3 in scoring defense and No. 2 in rushing defense, the Mendenhall-coached unit held its first six opponents under 300 total yards (part of a streak of 12 consecutive such games dating back to 2011) and kept opposing offenses without a touchdown six times during the year. Adjusting to the team’s up-tempo offense in 2013, BYU’s defense ranked No. 12 in yards per play allowed despite defending more plays than all but four teams nationally. Only two teams that defended as many plays ranked better than the Cougars at defending their turf.      

BYU’s success under Mendenhall is evident in the national rankings and NCAA statistics. BYU has been ranked in the top 25 in the various national statistical categories 135 times in his nine seasons (50 offense, 61 defense, 22 special teams, 2 misc.). The Cougars have achieved 83 top-15 statistical rankings, 60 top-10 rankings and 27 top-5 rankings in that span. 

BYU recruits have earned Freshman All-America recognition during seven of Mendenhall’s seasons as the Cougars continue to demonstrate through their recruiting efforts how they are strengthening the program with talented players and quality individuals.  More than 50 BYU players have signed with the NFL since Mendenhall arrived in Provo, including tight end Dennis Pitta, a starter on the 2013 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, the No. 5 overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2013 NFL Draft.   

Another hallmark of Mendenhall’s program has been the emphasis on balance and priorities in the many other facets of life outside of football. Reflecting that emphasis, BYU consistently received the most academic all-conference honorees each season as a conference member, while six Cougar student-athletes have earned seven Academic All-America citations under Mendenhall. Only four programs have had more Academic All-America citations during Mendenhall’s tenure. In addition, BYU tops all FBS programs for the most selections to the NFF Hampshire Honor Society (3.2 GPA over college career) since the program began in 2007.

The success of Mendenhall’s leadership approach in running the BYU football program has been highlighted in a management book, Running Into the Wind: Bronco Mendenhall–5 Strategies for Building a Successful Team, written by Alyson Von Feldt and Paul Gustavson, a leading management consultant specializing in leadership development and organization design. 

Mendenhall was elected in 2013 to the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees as the District 8 Representative and also serves on the Ethics Committee. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Oregon State. He later coached at Snow College, Northern Arizona, became the youngest defensive coordinator in the Pac-10 at Oregon State, then went to Louisiana Tech and New Mexico before coming to BYU as a defensive coordinator in 2003.

Name, Current School FBS Div. I Years FBS Div. I Record Win %
Winning Percentage Among Active FBS Coaches (at least 5 years FBS Div. I exp.)
1. Chris Petersen, Washington 8 92-12 .885
2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State 12 128-25 .836
3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 15 160-39 .804
4. Nick Saban, Alabama 18 170-57-1 .748
5. Mark Richt, Georgia 13 126-45 .737
6. Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky 9 83-30 .735
7. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina 24 219-79-2 .733
8. Les Miles, LSU 13 123-45 .732
9. Gary Patterson, TCU 14 120-44 .732
10. Larry Coker, Texas-San Antonio 9 79-30 .725
11. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame 10 90-37 .708
12. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU 9 82-34 .707
13. Bo Pelini, Nebraska 6 58-24 .707
14. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M 6 55-23 .705
15. Dabo Swinney, Clemson 5 51-23 .689

A dominant defense led BYU to its seventh winning season in as many years as the BYU football team finished the 2012 season with eight wins, a program-best fourth consecutive bowl victory and the No. 3 defense in the nation. With an 8-5 record, BYU claimed its sixth season with as least eight wins under Mendenhall's eight-year head coaching tenure. Incredibly consistent all year long, BYU finished the year ranked No. 3 in total defense, allowing just 266.1 yards per game. The Cougars ended the season ranked in the top four in five major defensive categories. 

In the first year of independence, BYU posted yet another 10-win season, capped off by another comeback bowl victory over Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl. Riley Nelson took over the starting quarterback duties midway through the season and led BYU to a 6-1 record down the stretch. The Cougar defense also posted the No. 13 ranked defense.

In 2010, BYU's 52-24 New Mexico Bowl victory highlighted the progress and momentum the relatively young team gained over the course of the season as several freshmen played big roles in the season-ending victory. True freshman quarterback Jake Heaps became the first frosh signal caller in BYU history to start in a bowl, and he completed 25-of-34 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns to be named New Mexico Bowl Offensive MVP. During the game, Heaps broke Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer's BYU record for freshman touchdown throws, finishing with 15 on the year to Detmer's 13. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Cody Hoffman caught three touchdowns on eight receptions for 137 yards in the bowl win, while true freshman running back Joshua Quezada ran for 101 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown.

While recording an 11-2 record and 7-1 league mark in 2009, Mendenhall's team went 3-1 against ranked opponents, including a 14-13 season-opening win over No. 3 Oklahoma and a 44-20 season-finale Maaco Bowl Las Vegas victory over No. 16 Oregon State. BYU finished No. 12 in the final 2009 polls to earn the distinction of being one of only six programs nationally to be ranked in both final polls for four straight seasons.

In 2008, BYU finished 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the MWC to achieve three straight 10-win seasons and become the first teams in Cougar history to go unbeaten at home over three consecutive seasons. Mendenhall coached the Cougars to back-to-back 11-2 seasons in 2006 and 2007, while claiming consecutive outright MWC titles with a combined record of 16-0 against league opponents.

Following the 2006 season, Mendenhall was named the American Football Coaches Association Region IV Coach of the Year. In addition, the Football Writers Association of America named Mendenhall one of nine finalists for the prestigious Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. On November 17, 2007, Mendenhall led the Cougars to a 35-10 victory over Wyoming to record his 25th career win. With the victory, Mendenhall became the only coach in BYU football history to win 25 games in his first 35 attempts.

In his first year in 2005 after taking over a program coming off three losing seasons, Mendenhall led BYU to a 6-5 regular-season record and earned an invitation to the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas -- the team's first postseason bowl appearance in three seasons. The Cougars finished tied for second in the MWC with a 5-3 league ledger.

BYU recruits have earned Freshman All-America recognition each of Mendenhalls seven seasons as the Cougars continue to demonstrate through their recruiting efforts how they are strengthening the program with talented players and quality individuals.

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 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.

Head Coaching Ledger
2005 BYU 6-6 5-3/T 2nd MWC Las Vegas L, 35-28 vs. Cal
2006 BYU 11-2 8-0/1st MWC Las Vegas W, 38-8 vs. Oregon
2007 BYU 11-2 8-0/1st MWC Las Vegas W, 17-16 vs. UCLA
2008 BYU 10-3 6-2/3rd MWC Las Vegas L, 31-21 vs. Arizona
2009 BYU 11-2 7-1/2nd MWC Las Vegas W, 44-20 vs. Oregon State
2010 BYU 7-6 5-3/3rd MWC New Mexico W, 52-24 vs. UTEP
2011 BYU 10-3 Independent Armed Forces W, 24-21 vs. Tulsa
2012 BYU 8-5 Independent Poinsettia W, 23-6, SDSU
2013 BYU 8-5 Independent Fight Hunger L, 31-16 vs Washington
TOTAL BYU 82-34 (.707)

MWC: 39-9 (.813)
Indy: 26-13 (.667)

Las Vegas, New Mexico,
Armed Forces, Poinsettia, Fight Hunger

6-3 (.667)