100 games later

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As 2005 came to a close, BYU’s football program was a wreck. BYU was coming off its third straight losing season with Gary Crowton as head coach. To make matters worse, four members of the football team were disciplined for honor code violations that resulted in court hearings for the four players. With mounting pressure from fans, Crowton resigned as football coach.

In December of 2005 Bronco Mendenhall was named the new head coach of BYU’s football team after weeks of searching. Mendenhall had been serving as a the team’s defensive coordinator since 2003. This Saturday Mendenhall will coach his 100th game as BYU’s head coach.

In the eight years since his hiring, Mendenhall has estalished himself as one of the best young coaches in the nation. Mendenhall enters saturday’s game with a 71-28 record at BYU. After not going to a bowl game for the last three years of Crowton’s time at BYU, Mendenhall has taken BYU’s football team to a bowl game each year. Mendenhall has a 5-2 record in bowl games. Three of his bowl wins have come against Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State.

BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall looks out onto the field. by Chris Bunker.
BYU football head coach Bronco Mendenhall has been a strong leader while at BYU.

During his time as head coach, Mendenhall has had his share of exciting wins. In the 2009 season opener Mendenhall led the Cougars to a win over the the No. 3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Who could forget exciting wins against Utah in 2006, 2007 and 2009. In recent years, the Utah State game has become more exciting and Mendenhall led BYU to a last second win over Utah State in 2011.

Mendenhall’s career has not been without its struggles either though. In his first home game as head coach, Mendenhall was booed off the field after the game. Fans have been frustrated by some of Mendnehall’s coaching decisions  including the two quarterback system, which saw Jake Heaps and Riley Nelson rotating snaps two years ago, or going for the two point conversion against Boise State this year that cost BYU the game.

Over the last eight years the biggest kncok against Mendenhall has been his struggle to win games against big time opponents. Under Mendenhall the Cougars are 4-12 against top 25 teams. After two losses in a row, BYU is now 3-5 against the University of Utah.

Despite his struggles, Coach Mendenhall has returned BYU to its prominence prior to the struggles of the Crowton era. Under Mendenhall the Cougars are two years into independence and a partnership with ESPN. They have finished ranked in the top 25 in the nation in five of Mendenhall’s years as coach.

With Mendenhall at the helm, look for BYU to continue its run of success and look for greater things to come from the BYU football team. Mendenhall leads the Cougars into his 100th game as head coach Saturday against the Idaho Vandals. Kickoff for the Cougars’ last home game this season is at 8:15 p.m.

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