Mendenhalls getting used to the rugged, enjoyable ride

Published: Wednesday, May 18 2011 1:00 a.m. MDT

"The players are great role models for our boys. Our boys each have their favorite players," Holly said. "They know their numbers. They love to go to Bronco's office and see them. A lot of the players have come to their baptisms, and they come over for dinner and take them to the barn to ride. It's a great thing for a little boy."

The Mendenhall sons are playing a variety of sports, with soccer being their favorite, Holly said. None has played tackle football — yet. "I'm holding off on that as long as I possibly can," she said.

Bronco has said publicly on a few occasions that he isn't planning to coach into retirement age, like the legendary LaVell Edwards did. Holly has shared that sentiment, though her view has softened.

"Initially, I thought, 'Are you kidding me? Are we doing this forever?'" she said, recalling when she and Bronco first started attending Nike-sponsored trips with octogenarian coaches Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden.

"I know I've looked at Bronco so many times I can't even tell you, and said, 'We are so not going to be doing this when you are their age. Period.' And they're great people.

"But as our children have gotten more interested in athletics and I've learned how it all works, it's a wonderful profession. I mean, there's a lot of junk that goes along with it, but you have to find the good things in it. It's provided a lot of good things for our family. As long as we feel like it's working with us, then I love it. We live in a great place. The thought of moving around the country is appealing to me. But other times, this is a great spot. I think Bronco could do other things. But I don't know what those would be. Right now, he's really happy. So we'll just ride as long as he wants to hang in there."

When Bronco was hired by Gary Crowton as defensive coordinator prior to the 2003 season, Holly didn't think it would be a longtime coaching destination, even though Bronco is an Alpine native.

"I didn't go to school at BYU. For me, it was another job move," she said. "When he was the defensive coordinator, I didn't think we'd be here this long at all. I thought it was just another stop on the road."

Bronco stirred some controversy a few years ago when he talked about football being fifth on his priority list in life — behind faith, family, knowledge, friends. Holly knows that's hard for some fans to understand.

"When he talks about football being fifth, it truly is. He's really passionate about working with these young adults," Holly said.

She added that Bronco is also more comfortable in his role.

"He's in a much better place now. I think it's probably taken him six years to get there. It still has to show on the field, because without wins, it doesn't matter. If you don't win, you're not going to be here. He's learning what fulfills him more as far as his job responsibilities. He's had to figure that out. Initially, I wasn't sure if he was going to make it the next few years. But now, I can totally say that I can see him doing this for a lot longer because he's figured out and molded things in the way that it works for him. He's really happy. He's not happy 100 percent of the time. It's a stressful job. It's hard. Nobody wants to lose. But still, he's at a place where he's the most content that I've seen him with what he's doing. That's after six years. He's worked really, really hard. He's a really intense person. And he has a really good football mind. But he's also an excellent administrator and an excellent leader. It's finding a balance of those two things where he can still grow and develop and help these young men."

When it comes to what happens on the field, Holly gives Bronco plenty of space.

Edwards' wife, Patti, wrote a regular column for the Provo Daily Herald while he was coaching. Once, Patti famously told her husband he should use the tight ends more in the offense.

Does Holly ever offer Bronco advice like that?

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