Lennie Mahler, Deseret News
PROVO — While BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has made it clear to the school’s administration — and the public — in recent months that he wants to remain at the helm of the football program for a while longer, no agreement has been announced.
Mendenhall's current contract expires at the end of the calendar year.
"I've expressed my interest in extending my contract. That was well before spring practice," Mendenhall said. "My agent has been working with the administration from there. At this point, we haven't reached an agreement yet. Holly (his wife) and I really haven't given it much thought since then. My contract is up on Dec. 31.”
Mendenhall, who has been BYU's head coach since December 2004, is in the final year of a three-year extension. He is in his ninth season as head coach.
“After I expressed my expectations and what my desires were to the administration, I've put it on the back burner and worked as hard as I can to get our team ready through the spring,” Mendenhall said. “For Holly and I, we've been preparing for the upcoming season in our lives. I think it will take care of itself. I'm not sure what the time frame will be."
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has not been available for comment, though he is expected to hold a question-and-answer session with reporters soon.
When Mendenhall, 47, assumed the reins of the program, he never imagined he would be in that position for as long as he has. He stated early on in his tenure that he wasn't going to lead the program on a long-term basis, like the legendary LaVell Edwards, who served as head coach for 29 seasons.
A few years ago, BYU’s administrators offered Mendenhall a five-year contract extension, but Mendenhall was more comfortable with a three-year deal.
Now that the Cougars are entering their third year as an independent, Mendenhall, who has compiled a 74-29 record in eight seasons, is eager to continue guiding the program through this unique transition.
When asked why he wants to continue coaching at BYU, Mendenhall pointed to a number of factors, including the attractive schedules that he and Holmoe — with the assistance of ESPN — have been able to put together in upcoming seasons.
He also enjoys the exposure the Cougars — and players like Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, who was selected No. 5 overall in the National Football League draft by the Detroit Lions in April — are receiving.
Beyond that, he is encouraged by what the football program is achieving, as well as what it can achieve in the future.
"I just think there's much more that we can accomplish. I'm not really saying from a win-loss perspective, and I'm not really saying from an organizational perspective, and I'm not really saying from an execution perspective," Mendenhall explained. "But the exposure the program is getting through fantastic young men like Ziggy, but also through the consistency and the caliber in which we play, but also sharing the unique message that we have. It's not only in how we play football, but why we're playing the game and for what we believe. That, to me, is very compelling. Now to have built a chance to do that on bigger stages throughout the country in different venues against different teams, that part has really captivated my heart. To see the interest from players around the country wanting to be part of it, that's been really fun."
Mendenhall is represented by Dan VanWoerkom, a licensed sports agent and BYU law school graduate. He also teaches a sports law class at BYU.
"The way it works is, I work with Bronco and Bronco takes what he feels is right to the university,” VanWoerkom said about the contract situation. “Then they'll do their homework and they'll get back to us at some point. We'll see where it goes."
VanWoerkom said he enjoys his relationship with Mendenhall: "I love working with Bronco. You don't have to wonder where you stand with him.”
"He's a dear friend of mine," Mendenhall said of VanWoerkom. "He's a friend from our neighborhood. We got to know him and we trust him.”
Since spring practices concluded in April, Mendenhall has been busy. He's doing more to connect with BYU's fan base.
In addition to taking care of his duties with the American Football Coaches Association (he was elected to the board of trustees of that organization last January), Mendenhall has signed up for a Twitter account, and has participated in BYU-sponsored “fan fests” across the state. He has greeted fans, posed for photos and signed autographs.
In April, he and Holly took a vacation to Costa Rica with supporters of the Holly & Bronco Mendenhall Foundation.
"Holly and I were approached by some people about a year ago,” Mendenhall said. “They knew of my love for the ocean. The thought was for the opportunity for couples to join us, spend some time surfing and being at the beach. We took the boys (sons Cutter, Breaker and Raeder). The proceeds went to our foundation. It was a weeklong trip. It was a nice location with fantastic beaches. It was a really nice time. I really enjoyed it.”
Mendenhall cut that trip a little short to be in New York City with Ansah for the NFL draft.
There’s a chance the Cougars could have another first-rounder next year — senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
So, how much longer will Mendenhall remain at the helm?
“The next (contract), if we choose to stay at that point, will be probably three (years)," Mendenhall said in January, 2012. "I think it’s better for everyone.”
After his team posted a lackluster 8-5 record last season, Mendenhall overhauled the entire offensive coaching staff, which included re-hiring Robert Anae as offensive coordinator.
It’s part of what Mendenhall called a “renewal” of the program and “the next era of BYU football.”
“I’m excited and optimistic about the growth of the program,” Mendenhall said last March. “I didn’t make any of these changes for a short-term basis. 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.”
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