Provo • The difficult part for Bronco Mendenhall wasn’t negotiating his contract to remain the football coach at BYU through the 2016 season, although he called that process “exhausting” on Wednesday as the Cougars held their third annual Football Media Day at the BYU Broadcast Building on campus.
The hardest part, Mendenhall revealed after the school announced a three-year extension of the contract that was set to expire after the upcoming season, was deciding last winter that he wanted to stay at BYU.
“We looked at the decision in every possible way, but ultimately, I have come to the realization that I like it here,” Mendenhall said. “And that was a big breakthrough.”
Terms of the contract were not revealed, and never will be because BYU is a private institution not bound by government open-records access rules.
After acknowledging that the contract is “unique” and “different” from those coaches at other schools sign, Mendenhall laughed when asked if he will be paid remotely close to market value.
“I like the term ‘remotely,’ because that is like cellphone coverage, right?” he said. “Sometimes you get one bar. Let’s just keep that analogy. It is not four bars.”
But the coach quickly added that “I am not complaining,” and noted that BYU has done everything it can to keep him and his family happy.
“If you wanted to get hung up, as I was early in my career, on a comparative basis, from what the world pays, what the world acknowledges as value, you would just be mad at that,” he said.
That Mendenhall was signing a contract extension was just one of three significant announcements BYU made while holding its annual football kickoff meetings nearly a month earlier than any other school in college football.
“It’s not a restart, but a new launch from an existing place,” Mendenhall said, while detailing how he had to make the decision to extend last December before shaking up his offensive coaching staff.
Also Wednesday, BYU and USC announced they have agreed to a three-game series for the 2019, 2021 and 2023 seasons. The first game will be played in Provo on Sept. 14, while the latter two will be played on Thanksgiving weekends at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Mendenhall said there are only a few schools that BYU will play two-for-ones with, and USC is one of them. The Cougars decided to do it because they will play in November twice, and because BYU has a lot of fans in Southern California.
“It really wasn’t the ideal,” he said, acknowledging his “perfect way” would be to play a home-and-home series and a game at a neutral site, usually close to the other school in an area with a lot of LDS Church members.
The other announcement helps clear up BYU’s bowl future, but only slightly. The Cougars have accepted invitations to play in San Diego’s Poinsettia Bowl in 2015 and after one additional season to be announced at a later date. BYU still doesn’t have a bowl game lined up for 2014.
Mendenhall said he is “satisfied” with playing in lower-tier bowls as long as they are in locales accessible to BYU fans — such as San Diego and the Bay Area of California — and feature “high-quality” opponents like San Diego State, which the Cougars defeated 23-6 in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl. He said a bowl’s payout is not a priority for him or athletic director Tom Holmoe.
Media Day highlights
• Coach Bronco Mendenhall signs a new agreement that extends his contract through the 2016 season.
• The Cougars announce a three-year football series with USC that will be played in Provo in 2019 and in Los Angeles in 2021 and 2023.
• BYU accepts an invitation to play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego following the 2015 season and one additional season at a later date.