Lennie Mahler, Deseret News archives
PROVO — Since Bronco Mendenhall became BYU's head coach in December of 2004, many have wondered how long he would remain at the helm.
Last January, after his first six seasons, he quietly signed a three-year contract extension. Then last fall, he guided the Cougars through their first year of independence.
But in recent weeks, Mendenhall seriously considered leaving BYU for a different job.
Mendenhall revealed Wednesday during a 45-minute question-and-answer session with reporters that after the 2011 season he received an offer to be the head coach at a Football Bowl Subdivision program, but decided to turn down the offer and stay at BYU.
"We (Mendenhall and his wife, Holly) hadn't really pursued any other places nor did we this year. But we had a very sincere and distinct chance to leave, and chose not to," Mendenhall said. "That in and of itself reiterated to me the excitement I had to be here (at BYU). It was really a choice to stay and a choice to leave, which was an invigorating process to add momentum to our existing program."
Mendenhall did not name the school that offered him the job. In December, Deseret News columnist Dick Harmon reported that Mendenhall had removed his name from the coaching search at UCLA.
In seven seasons at BYU, Mendenhall has posted a 66-24 record, including 10 or more victories in five of the last six seasons. He has two years remaining on his contract.
"I'm excited and really motivated to continue to grow our program with the two years that I have," he said Wednesday. "After that, I will re-evaluate again. But I don't ever see agreeing to 10 or 12 (years) or something like that. The next one, if we choose to stay at that point, will be probably three (years). I think it's better for everyone."
BYU finished with a 10-3 record in its first year as an independent. Mendenhall, who turns 46 next month, said that he "really enjoyed this year in terms of a liberation and a new sense of energy of taking on different challenges and things we hadn't done the previous six years. I liked it ... I'm enjoying (coaching) more now than I've ever enjoyed it."
The Cougars will have 29 seniors on the roster next season — which opens on Sept. 1 at home against Washington State — plus a lot of experienced juniors. "I like our chances in 2012," he said.
Mendenhall's predecessor, Gary Crowton, led BYU's program for four seasons. Crowton replaced the legendary LaVell Edwards, who was the Cougars' head coach for 29 years.
"When I became the coach at BYU, I wasn't sure I'd be here seven years. Seven years is a long time," Mendenhall said.
After the 2010 season, Mendenhall's contract expired. In what he called a "defining moment" for both his family and BYU's program one year ago, Mendenhall and his wife met with athletic director Tom Holmoe and advancement vice president Kevin Worthen.
"I'm not sure they thought when I came in to visit with them with Holly what we were going to say," he recalled. "It was contract renewal time. We said we would like to stay and there was kind of a visible sigh of relief. But I really think they might have thought that I had had enough."
BYU wanted Mendenhall to sign a five-year deal, but he was comfortable with a three-year pact.
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