A recent ranking of all of the college football coaches recently came out by The Sporting News. Bronco Mendenhall was named as the 23rd best coach in college football, down 6 spots from his number 17 ranking last year. It's not clear how the rankings were compiled, but Chris Petersen, the former Boise State and current Washington coach who was bested by Bronco last year, came in at number 6. University of Utah coach Kyle Whittingham came in at 62 (a 26 spot drop from last year) and Utah State's Matt Wells was ranked 100th.
So, how do BYU fans feel that their coach is nationally recognized as one of the top 25 coaches in college football? Bronco has one of the toughest coaching jobs in the country and has done an admirable job in taking the program in the right direction. Many fans are happy with the consistent success and winning seasons. Some would argue that merely taking a program in the right direction isn't good enough and that the Cougars need to achieve success immediately in the form of BCS bowl games or undefeated seasons.
BYU fans are used to the glory days of big wins against top programs and seasons with 1-2 loses, but those haven't been the norm for a few years. Bronco is doing a great job, but could someone else take the Cougars to new heights? The simple answer is no, Bronco is the right guy for this team.
To further add to the pre-season speculation, Dennis Dodd has the Cougars coming in as the 25th best team in college football after spring ball, with this to say about the Cougars:
So, the Cougars have the 23rd best coach of the 25th best team in college football. That's incredible, but they can better and Bronco knows that. Bronco is on record saying that a top 25 ranking is the minimum standard for the Cougars. Even though they have fallen short of this goal the last two seasons, there are a lot of positives. When you take a look at Bronco's record over the last few years, a few interesting things stand out. Per Greg Wrubell:
Camp Cougar Countdown FOTD (99 days): Bronco Mendenhall has an 82-34 record through 116 games; LaVell Edwards' 116-gm record was 83-32-1.— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) April 24, 2014
CCC FOTD (97 days): BYU is one of only 7 FBS teams w/ 7+ wins in each of the last 8 seasons (Boise St, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC, Va Tech).— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) April 26, 2014
BYU is in really good company. Bronco is essentially tied with LaVell Edwards through 116 games and is only one of seven teams to win at least seven games over the last eight seasons. Think about all the big name teams that aren't on this list; no Alabama, no Texas, not even Florida. These teams have of course won national championships recently, but Bronco has consistently been successful for a long time.
Bronco is still the right man for the job. Take a step back and consider the alternatives. Would the Cougars be better with someone else at the helm, what if Norm Chow would have been named the head coach or if Gary Crowton had been allowed to stay for a few more years? Both have made multiple stops since their time with the Cougars and had mixed results.
It is definitely a year to make some noise and justify those rankings, especially with the college landscape changing and the SEC dictating that a non-conference game must be played against one of the power 5 conferences, seemingly leaving BYU out in the cold. Tom Holmoe has confirmed that he will talk to the SEC to see if BYU can be included with that group, but nothing has been reported yet.
Bronco is recognized as one of the best at his job by those who probably don't understand how complex it is to balance the strict moral standards, academics, and football success, which probably means he's better than they even realize. I wouldn't want anyone else.