BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall has interviewed at Colorado, according to a report from BYU All Blue. This news follows the Denver Post report from late Thursday night that CU was seriously interested in Mendenhall to be its next coach.
BREAKING: Just confirmed with a source here in Boulder that Bronco Mendenhall has interviewed with CU to be their next football coach.— All Blue Everything (@BYUAllBlue) December 3, 2012
Without hinting at the source, especially since it is not our source to hint at or reveal, I can say that we at Vanquish The Foe have strong reason to believe the validity of this report from BYU All Blue, who lives in Boulder.
When the news broke Thursday that Colorado was interested in Bronco, I (as linked above) was skeptical that anything would come to fruition. And that still may be true: it's clear Bronco has been afforded the opportunity to explore other jobs without his own being in jeopardy, as he was involved in UCLA's search last season. An interview may indicate a consideration on Bronco's behalf, but the degree to which he seriously considers the job may be small.
Still, I am less sure now of what I previously thought was near absurdity last week. It's at least interesting to entertain reasons why Bronco would leave BYU for Colorado. These thoughts combine those I've had with those that many of you have shared on Twitter:
> Colorado would see Bronco as a stand-up, straight-forward answer to turn its program around. Still not interested in coaching forever, Bronco considers taking the position as a new challenge as his career's final move. Perhaps he feels he has both fulfilled the main task he was given when hired at BYU (clean up the program), and maybe feels he has taken BYU as high as he can. Colorado is a new challenge.
> BYU was 6-5 in the regular season in Bronco's first year after missing a bowl game for three straight seasons. Another 7-5 year at BYU could spell doom. 7-5 at Colorado would make him a miracle worker, as the Buffs have had five straight losing seasons. He could also test his defensive mind against the offenses of the Pac 12.
> With Colorado reportedly prepared to pay $2.5 million a year for a new coach, Bronco commits to three years in Boulder to close his career and sweeten his retirement -- again, I personally believe he doesn't plan to continue coaching for more than three years anyway, at BYU or elsewhere. While it is said that Bronco makes the most any BYU coach has, it is thought he makes just over $1 million per season, though this is of course nearly unverifiable. Opting for three years at CU would therefore pad his earnings on his way out by an additional $4.5 million. I don't think Bronco is driven by money, but with a possible plan to retire around 50, another $4.5 million isn't insignificant.
> Because of Jon Embree's hasty firing and the subsequent PR hit, Bronco could also demand a handsome buyout in case CU decided to cut him short of the third year. The school surely knows what Embree's firing and press conference did to its credibility, and it would be surprising if they only gave the next coach two years as well. They are probably prepared to agree to such a buyout.
> Leaving BYU would give Mendenhall the chance to be what many are calling "Football Bronco" again. He would most definitely care deeply about affecting the lives of Colorado players beyond football; his core philosophies wouldn't change. But he would not have to worry about conducting and participating in firesides and furthering a greater university mission. He could focus on football in a way he hasn't been able to do since his days as a defensive coordinator.
With all those things, I'm willing to admit that Bronco coaching at Colorado isn't as outlandish as I initially believed. A major reason I believed so was a major cultural difference between Bronco and the school -- but Cal did hire Tom Holmoe, after all, and Holmoe agreed to coach in Berkeley. It happens.
I'm told the Mendenhalls have recently built a veritable "dream home" in Utah. It's hard to imagine Bronco leaving his family behind to take the job ... But how much would a home anchor him to the state? Hard to know.
It could just be smart business from Bronco as well. Knowing he wants to be done soon, Bronco could just be showing he is both serious about taking another school's offer if it's good enough, and that he does have suitors. This could elicit a short contract extension from BYU, which he would coach out and then enter retirement.
While I would be surprised to see Bronco take the job, it at least doesn't seem that absurd to me anymore.