SAN DIEGO — BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall's name has been mentioned since last week in connection with the open job at Colorado. In fact, one report even had him interviewing for the job earlier this week.
And it's news to Mendenhall, who was in San Diego Wednesday evening to promote the Poinsettia Bowl game Dec. 20 between BYU (7-5) and San Diego State (9-3).
Mendenhall set the record straight when asked about the Colorado rumors. To wit:
"I didn't express any interest, haven't been contacted, didn't interview and didn't know I was a candidate," he said. "Other than that, I guess I'm a finalist, from what I've been told.
"It's an interesting thing. It's a compliment to be considered and sometimes you're considered or on a short list and that gets out to people even before you're interviewed. So who knows."
Word certainly gets around.
"I was asked by a recruit just (Tuesday) night," said Mendenhall. "I have been the (BYU) coach for eight years. We (he and his wife) are yet to look at a newspaper article. I don't ever watch the sports news. I don't listen to any radio talk shows. So our neighbors started calling us. I guess I was rumored to be going somewhere. That was news to us."
Mendenhall worked with SDSU head coach Rocky Long at both New Mexico and Oregon State. They are good friends and that came through Wednesday on the podium.
"There are not many close friends in coaching, but I consider Bronco one of my close friends," said Long. "Bronco and I have been on the same sideline and had various successes. We've been on opposite sidelines and he's had a whole lot more success than me."
They are in a business where success is almost all that matters for most schools. That sets the coaching carousel to spinning this time of year, and it's picking up speed.
There have been openings for weeks from California to Colorado to Tennessee. In most cases, a hiring at one school creates an opening at another.
The excitement of Northern Illinois qualifying for a BCS bowl over the weekend was tempered by head coach Dave Doeren's departure for North Carolina State.
Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, who has been offered the job at Colorado, threatened to end a press conference Tuesday if questions focused on his coaching status rather than the Bearcats' upcoming bowl game.
As Jones contemplated his future, an opening was created at Wisconsin when Bret Bielema took the job at Arkansas. That gave Jones another position to ponder and the potential for coaching candidates at Colorado to swirl anew.
With the 24/7 news cycle fed by such things as ESPN, the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, how does one keep it from becoming a distraction?
"It's very difficult," said Mendenhall. "Of all the 124 programs, BYU was seen sixth-most in the world. We have a national and worldwide fan base. There are more members of the church outside of the states than inside. With the ESPN contract, we're not lacking in exposure. Then you add the Internet, etc., to that. It's becoming a very unique position to be in besides coaching football."
Mendenhall said he has no plans to leave BYU in search of greener pastures.
"I'm going to be at BYU as long as I feel like I'm supposed to and as long as I feel like I'm making progress," he said. "I care a lot about the place. If ever there comes a point where I think it's somebody else's turn, then I'll know that and they'll know that. But I think there's still a lot to do. … Who knows what the future will hold?
"I never had any interest in coming to BYU or becoming a head coach. It never crossed my mind. In fact, even when I was at New Mexico I was still trying to decide if it was (what I) wanted to do was coach. It's a very demanding profession and the next thing I know I was a head coach. It started to become clear then that at least at BYU why I would do it, how I would sustain it, etc.
"I go more now on what I believe I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing than anything else. It's less materialistic. It's less self-interested with every turn. It's more principled.
"I've actually gone longer now than I thought I would. Just finished year eight and I'm really learning and finding ways to focus on that I really enjoy. I'm not sure how long (he will keep going). The easy answer is until I'm supposed to."
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