BYU administrators decided to be "fully invested" in head football coach Bronco Mendenhall Wednesday when they tossed him a raise and extended his existing contract through the 2011 season, after negotiating details for two weeks.
"Bronco has done a tremendous job of re-establishing BYU's tradition of football excellence and leading the program back to national prominence," according to BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe.
While details of his new contract were not released, the 2006 MWC Coach of the Year had two years remaining on his current BYU contract. The new deal rewrites those years and extends the agreement for three more.
"I'm thrilled and honored to be able to coach at BYU the next few years. I'm optimistic about our future, and I'm committed to returning this program to the dominance it once knew," said Mendenhall.
"I take this as a compliment and I'm thankful our athletic director, having been a former head coach, has acted proactive. That means a lot to me. It shows that the actions I'm taking as a head coach and the assistants and players are being rewarded."
Mendenhall said the raise does not meet any personal goals with tenure and money. "I just want to do my best with the program in fulfilling the legacy left by LaVell Edwards and others. I'll simply do my best until that time is up."
Neither BYU or Mendenhall talked about money figures in the deal.
But the new pact may elevate Mendenhall closer to the top of the league in compensation, a spot currently held by TCU coach Gary Patterson ($952,000), according to Coacheshoteseat.com, an Internet site that lists contracts and salaries of college coaches. That same site estimates Mendenhall's salary at $900,000, but this figure is unconfirmed. Sources say Mendenhall was hired for half that in 2005.
"The BYU football program is heading in the right direction, and I credit Bronco's leadership qualities for the success we've enjoyed in his first two seasons," said Holmoe.
The boost in Mendenhall's contract will be funded outside university coffers, part of a $10 million endowment by 400 boosters who are expected to contribute $25,000 each, according to sources. The interest from the endowment will pay for the raise and will also be used to make the salaries of other successful coaches, such as basketball coach Dave Rose, more competitive with peers.
This program, according to sources, is a new effort for the department and is different from another booster-funded account called the "Coaches Circle," which enables BYU to pay for head coach and assistant coach salaries outside a budget that normally sustains faculty compensation.
Mendenhall said a raise is nice and will allow him to take care of his family and enhance the family lifestyle, but he has no plans to use the money. "My wife and I live the same way we did as students, and we still eat Ramen noodle soup.
"My motivation in working as a coach has never been about the money," Mendenhall said. The coach said he shared information about his contract extension with his staff weeks ago and admitted the move adds some stability and confirmation to his program.
Stated Holmoe, "He, his staff and his players have helped create a solid foundation for long-term success. His commitment to doing things the right way, both on and off the field, has brought back a great deal of excitement and hope for the future of BYU football."
Entering his third season as the head football coach at BYU, Mendenhall has guided the Cougars to a 17-8 record. Mendenhall and the Cougars posted an 11-2 record in 2006, winning the outright MWC Championship with a perfect 8-0 record. BYU returned to the Las Vegas Bowl to represent the MWC and dominated Oregon, 38-8 to claim its first bowl victory since 1996.
Along the way, BYU climbed the national polls by winning 10 straight games. As a result, the Cougars finished the season ranked 15th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 16th in the Associated Press poll. At the conclusion of the regular season, BYU was ranked 19th in the Harris Interactive Poll and 20th in the BCS rankings. The Cougars' current 10-game win streak is the second longest active win streak in the country.Following his second season as a head coach, Mendenhall was named the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year and was selected as the American Football Coaches Association Region IV Coach of the Year. In addition, he was named by the Football Writers Association of America one of nine finalists for the prestigious Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.