It appears that Bronco Mendenhall is going to coach the BYU football team quite a bit longer than a lot of people believed he would.
Mendenhall is in the midst of contract negotiations that will likely keep him at BYU for at least several more years.
Prior to acknowledging his own contract situation is being worked out, Mendenhall announced Friday morning the restructuring of his coaching staff, which includes the promotion of offensive coordinator Robert Anae to assistant head coach and secondary coach Nick Howell to defensive coordinator. Mendenhall will still call the defensive plays.
You can read more about the coaching assignment changes here.
As for Mendenhall’s contract, his current deal is set to expire after the 2013 season. He signed the three-year contract after the 2010 season, in early 2011, although BYU officials were offering a five-year deal. At the BYU football media day some five months later, Mendenhall talked for the first time about the contract, and said he turned down the five-year offer because he couldn’t guarantee school officials that he could stay that long.
Today’s acknowledgement means he believes he will.
If you follow me on Twitter, you are probably aware that Mendenhall spent some time talking to reporters today about the coaching changes and his outlook for spring camp, which begins Monday.
What follows are some of his comments regarding the makeup of his coaching staff.
I will post his thoughts about spring camp in the next few days.
Mendenhall on the promotions of Anae and Howell:
"It has been a long time in the making, from the minute our game finish versus San Diego State, and our bowl victory, and coach [Lance] Reynolds then stepping away from football. It was, man, a great chance to consider the next era of BYU football, and we’ve been working really diligently to re-assemble and to assemble a very strong coaching staff -- not in relation to the past, but in relation to the future that would include more difficult scheduling, more exposure, more significant games on the road, with even higher expectations.
And so what I have really done is formalized an already existing relationship with coach [Nick] Howell, which has been any time that I am called away to do head-coaching responsibilities, to lead the defensive room.
He provides really the continuation of an existing structure. There really won’t be any change at all on how our defense runs on a daily basis, other than a formalization of what he has already been doing.
I will still be the play-caller, and he and I work really well together. But I need significant help in dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s and all the legwork that is so important organizationally, and Nick is helpful in doing all that."
"In naming an assistant head coach in coach Anae, I love the idea of naming Robert, someone that I respect, not only as a person but as a football coach. He has produced great results. I don’t think anyone cares more about BYU than him.
I believe he is fiercely loyal to not only myself, but this program. And he is 100 percent trustworthy and honest in all of our dealings, and so in the events and times where I am called away as the head coach, either speaking or off recruiting, someone needs to be here to run the team, and I am very comfortable that Robert can do that. And I also like the combination of the offensive coordinator being the assistant head coach.
What that allows us is a really nice unity between myself as the head coach and the offensive coordinator, seeing things the same way and working toward the same goal. So I like that a lot.
So with Nick taking on more title, not necessarily more responsibility, I watched last year, and the last two years, as he coached the secondary, and special teams, that was a lot. So I believe Kelly Poppinga has proven himself really worthy and capable to not only add the energy, but also the schematic knowledge to our special teams, continuing and existing structure which is he oversees the organization, and then delegates owners of each particular special team, and then really makes sure the practice structure and meetings run efficiently.
So he won’t coach each one. He will still be the lead coach of just one special team, which will be the kickoff, but he will have oversight over the rest."
Mendenhall on whether he will be more involved with the offense than he has been:
"I will only be slightly more involved in the transition and the on-boarding of our new coaches. I still intend the run the structure the same way that I have been. But I have been in the offensive meetings more, and I have poked my head in more here and there, and I have met with the new offensive coaches more from the standpoint of helping them understand, number one, what has happened in this program, and the direction it is going, and what is going to be expected of them. And so just by nature of them being new, I will be spending more time in the upcoming year, or months, it just depends on making sure they are up to speed and comfortable."
Mendenhall on whether the yet-to-be-named director of football personnel will be the de facto recruiting coordinator:
"The responsibilities will be more enhanced, even including current personnel on our team, as well as the recruits coming in. But I don’t believe it is realistic any longer in college football to have the demands of a full-time coach, position coach also, and be the recruiting coordinator. I think that it is very difficult, it stretches them too thin, and it is too hard to be outstanding in both.
So basically, all I am waiting for now is we have to go through the university [job] postings, and timeline, etc., and working behind the scenes on that.
It is taking a little longer than I thought, but I am really excited about the pool of candidates we have. And that is going to be critical hire for us and something that I think will continue to add momentum to our program and help move us forward in relation to the challenges that our coming up that we are really excited about."
Mendenhall on Nick Howell and whether this is a longterm situation with him:
"I really, really enjoy coaching the defense and I don’t say, nor am I willing to say the next year or the year after or the year after. Nick is very capable, and he’s learning and growing every single year. It is really fun to be able to provide kind of a mentor type of role, and allow him to have more responsibility with basically the infrastructure that I can provide for him to lean on. But again, that has already been happening. At some point, and I am not sure when that is supposed to be, I will strongly consider just being the head coach, and without really having an emphasis on one side or the other. But I don’t see that certainly this year.
But I think the best way to phrase it is ... this is like the beginning of coach Howell’s ascent in our coaching staff."
Mendenhall on coach Robert Anae and how big his role has become:
"Yeah, coach Anae and I have worked side by side in every single interview, from the very beginning, and it has been a lengthy process, an exhaustive process, but also very comprehensive. I think we have put together a fantastic coaching staff, and I like the blend of personalities, I like the blend of skillset, and I like the blend of experience, and I like the blend of competencies. So I am really excited about that.
So we took a long time, and we did it by design, and so not only were I and Robert Anae working side by side on that, we were also taking ownership and really developing a lot of continuity for what we wanted the program to look like to move forward, and how we continue to grow it and expand it."
Reward for reading this far -- a couple news nuggets that came out of today’s interview:
* Junior offensive lineman Blair Tushaus has decided to transfer and Manaaki Vaitai would likely be the starting offensive center if the season started today.
* Quarterback Taysom Hill’s recovery from knee surgery is ahead of schedule, but at this point, he will not participate in any contact drills at camp. "He is going to be able to do quite a bit," Mendenhall said.
* Mendenhall said he would like to be able to name a starting quarterback for the 2013 season by the end of spring camp, but doesn’t think that will be possible due to Hill’s status. He said offensive coaches have been told to give all the QBs in camp -- Ammon Olsen, Jason Munns, Billy Green and Hill -- a clean slate. "We would like to see all players on the offensive side through fresh lenses, meaning that it is a new coaching staff and I have asked them to view players as if they hadn’t seen them before," he said.
* Tight end Austin Holt will move to defensive end. "Probably the biggest news. I have been really encouraged from what I have seen from him in the offseason," Mendenhall said.
* Tui Crichton will remain on the offensive line, after making an emergency switch from defensive line at the end of last season.
* Jacob Hanneman is currently a starter on the baseball team and will split time between football and baseball this month. He will probably get in eight or nine football practices.
* Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi will be allowed to finish out the basketball season and will return to the football team when the hoopers are eliminated from whatever tournament they are invited to. "I think that is the right thing to do," Mendenhall said. "He’s doing a nice job, he’s working really hard, so I would like to see him finish what he has started there."
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