PROVO — BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is prepared to guide the Cougars through at least the first few years of independence — and probably beyond.
During Tuesday's national media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building, Mendenhall disclosed that he signed a three-year contract extension after last season, which would keep him on the Cougar sidelines through the 2013 campaign.
"I'm absolutely and 100 percent satisfied. I've been treated more than fairly," Mendenhall said. "BYU wanted to make it longer term than that. I'm very realistic. There's a lot on the line in being independent. I want to be worthy of the position I have and I'm going to give it everything I have for those three (years). I'm not saying I won't go farther than that. I hope that's reported. It's not three and done. But I'm willing to lead the charge through independence, then re-evaluate … BYU has been fantastic and proactive in everything they've done. I've been treated very fairly and I'm completely comfortable with that, more so than I've ever been in my career."
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said he talked to Mendenhall about his contract once last season ended. In the spring, Holmoe extended the contract of basketball coach Dave Rose.
"We approached him and typically with Dave and Bronco, we've kept them on the same schedule," Holmoe said. "We've renegotiated a couple of times. I said, 'Bronco, what should we do?' We worked it out. Would have I signed him to a five-year contract, if the terms were right, sure … He liked the three-year and three years is great."
Regarding the length of the deal, Mendenhall said three years felt right.
"I thought it was fair to our players, our institution and to Tom. How can you sign a 10-year deal? How does any of us know where we'll be 10 years from now? Three years in coaching is like dog years, kind of. Three years in a coaching life is like 21."
Mendenhall explained it wasn't something he announced at that time the extension was signed.
"As BYU's coach, there's enough attention. I just didn't want that to be another story," Mendenhall explained. "But I'm completely happy here and I'd like to coach here as long as I'm wanted and as long as where I feel it's where I'm supposed to be. I was invigorated and so excited by the chance to continue to move the program forward, and this idea of independence, while many would have backed away from it, I'm anxious to be the coach to take it on. There's a huge amount of risk, but there's also a great opportunity for reward as well. I'm looking forward to that."
ESPN analyst Trevor Matich, who played on BYU's national championship team, said Mendenhall is undoubtedly the right man to lead the Cougar football program.
"This is one of the most difficult jobs in America. You not only have the immense pressure to win because of going independent and the partnership with ESPN, but you also have the lifestyle and image of the school and the church to maintain," Matich said, adding that the missionary program provides difficult recruiting and roster challenges. "BYU is such a unique place. Bronco Mendenhall is absolutely fantastic. It's serendipity. It's a perfect merger of hard-core winner with an understanding of the needs of the system and the greater mission of the university and the LDS Church. It's smart to keep him here as long as they can. Whatever it takes to keep him here, I would do."