PROVO — Though he is in the final season of his current three-year contract, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said he would like to continue coaching the Cougars for years to come.
"It's happening as we speak," Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall also announced Friday that he is relinquishing the title of defensive coordinator, and giving it to secondary coach Nick Howell. Newly rehired offensive coordinator Robert Anae will now serve as BYU's assistant head coach.
Mendenhall will continue to call defensive plays and assist Howell in coordinating the defense. In addition, outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga will also handle special teams coordinator duties.
The many coaching changes, including an overhaul of the offensive staff, is part of what Mendenhall calls a "renewal" of the program and "the next era of BYU football."
The coach added that he is looking forward to the future.
"I'm excited and optimistic about the growth of the program. I didn't make any of these changes for a short-term basis," Mendenhall said. "There's more to do, and I think I'm supposed to do it. I made these changes in relation to that, with really no regard to my contract."
After the 2010 season, Mendenhall signed a three-year deal. At that time, athletic director Tom Holmoe proposed that he sign a longer contract, but Mendenhall felt comfortable with three years.
When asked if he saw himself coaching at BYU beyond this year, Mendenhall said, "Yes, I do. Certainly, President Samuelson and Tom will have something to say about it if that happens, and how long. But that's my intent."
Since Mendenhall signed that three-year contract, a pair of Pac-12 schools — UCLA and Colorado — approached him about filling their head coaching positions.
Mendenhall has led the Cougars to a 74-29 record in eight seasons at the helm. BYU finished 8-5 last fall.
The changes in the leadership structure in the program have been in the works for months, Mendenhall said, adding that he's been working hard to assemble the best staff he can.
“Robert, Nick and Kelly are pillars of our coaching staff," Mendenhall said. "I have complete confidence in their coaching and leadership abilities and the sincere desire each has to help the young men in our program succeed at the highest level. I have great expectations regarding the contributions of each member of our staff as we prepare our team for the 2013 season.”
Mendenhall had been serving as defensive coordinator since midway through the 2010 season. He called Howell's promotion "more title, not necessarily more responsibility." Mendenhall said Howell has already been serving in many ways in the role as defensive coordinator.
“Whenever I have been unable to stay with our defensive coaches due to my responsibilities as the head coach, Nick has provided that leadership in my absence," Mendenhall explained. "I will maintain play-calling duties and continue to work with Nick in our established pattern regarding the daily oversight of our defense.”
As part of the changes to the coaching staff, Anae will also coach the offensive line along with Garett Tujague, who was hired last month. Other new faces on the staff are Mark Atuaia (running backs), Jason Beck (quarterbacks), and Guy Holliday (wide receivers).
The Cougars open spring practices on Monday. Spring drills are scheduled to conclude on April 5.
The team will conduct a spring scrimmage open to the public at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, March 30, at 11 a.m. Additional details will be announced at a later date.