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Dick Harmon: Bronco Mendenhall plans to finalize coaching staff at own pace

Published: Monday, Jan. 10 2011 8:49 p.m. MST

So, is Bronco Mendenhall through with coaching changes on his staff? Probably not. He currently has eight assistant coaches and can hire nine.

But don't hold him to a timetable or stopwatch.

The most recent staff change took place in an orderly fashion. Robert Anae resigned right before a weekend. Anae was then hired at Arizona on a Monday and on a Tuesday Mendenhall announced Brandon Doman as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach while walking out the door of a press conference.

Dominoes.

If there are other changes or additions to Mendenhall's staff, look for things to follow a similar order as the departure of Anae and elevation of Doman and graduate assistant Kelly Poppinga to full-time outside linebackers coach.

BYU is down one offensive coach right now. Mendenhall, in concert with Doman, could hire a position coach or create a new position as part of a hybrid position coach called a run game or pass game coordinator. There could be an expansion or limitation of another coaching spot with accompanying change of titles or assignments.

"From the time of the end of the season to now has not only been exciting but challenging," Mendenhall told reporters a week ago at his last press conference.

One of those challenges proved to be firing defensive coordinator Jaime Hill the day after the loss at Utah State. The results were immediate as Mendenhall took over Hill's duties.

Another challenge was accepting Anae's resignation and elevating Doman. Poppinga's hire essentially replaces Hill. Doman replaced Anae and by keeping his QB coach duties, he has kept an opening for another offensive coach. If another staff member resigns in coming days or weeks, it leaves two openings on the nine-man staff of assistants.

Mendenhall's quotes, taking no questions at his press conference last week, provided some guidelines as to what to expect as BYU prepares for independence.

"My job as head coach is to continue to look for ways to improve our program," Mendenhall said. "I'm not willing to accept any ceilings on our program as to what is and what is not possible. I've made some decisions regarding the program that have been difficult like I mentioned. But I feel they have been the right decisions going forward."

The day after Mendenhall called five offensive coaches in for a chat after the New Mexico Bowl, BYU posted on its official job site openings for an assistant football coach plus-one.

Since that time, there have been the same serial applicants, plus some new ones. Former all-time receiver Eric Drage told me he applied. Former All-CFL receiver Ben Cahoon is expected to retire and has applied. Folks at Timpview High believe head coach Louis Wong will be interviewed.

I asked former BYU running back Kalin Hall of Springville, who coaches youth programs in Utah County, if he had applied and Hall said he had not, although it would be his "dream job."

Timing? There are several dates that could box Mendenhall into some decisions. This week is the AFCA convention for college coaches in Dallas Sunday through Wednesday. After that is national letter of intent recruit signing day on Feb. 2, just 23 days away. A third date is the start of spring football practice, traditionally mid-March.

Mendenhall, however, refuses to get boxed in. The next hire could come as the result of a staff resignation for another job or maybe the guy he wants is not available contractually until later this year.

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