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Mendenhall promoted to coach Cougars

PROVO, Utah -- Defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall was
hired Monday as the head football coach at Brigham Young.

"I'm ready to take this program to where it should be," said
Mendenhall, whose given first name is Bronco. His father was a
horse trainer who played football for the Cougars.

Mendenhall, 38, replaces Gary Crowton, who stepped down two
weeks ago after his third losing season.

Mendenhall and longtime BYU assistant Lance Reynolds, who has
been interim coach since Crowton's resignation, were the in-house
candidates to take over for Crowton. Reynolds will remain on staff.

BYU also interviewed Utah defensive coordinator Kyle
Whittingham, but he declined to return to his alma mater and
accepted an offer to take over as coach of the Utes.

Mendenhall said he thought he might be back in the running when
Whittingham backed out.

"I thought so, but you never quite know," he said. "I didn't
know what other candidates might be rounded up."

But he said his diligence won out. "I think that's one of my
strengths, remaining steadfast and enduring."

BYU quarterback John Beck said Mendenhall recognizes the
importance and traditions of BYU football.

"We want BYU to be a place that's winning, and that's what
Bronco wants," he said.

Mendenhall has already brought in a new offensive coordinator,
Robert Anae, the offensive line coach at Texas Tech.

Anae was a lineman on BYU's national championship team 20 years
ago.

Mendenhall was hired two years ago away from New Mexico.
Crowton, who had Mendenhall on his Louisiana Tech staff, liked
Mendenhall's intensity and wanted to bring him back to his native
Utah.

He's already showed that intensity to players when he met with
them to announce he was taking over as coach. He used part of that
meeting to serve them notice.

"They better not relax over Christmas because we're getting
right to a wild pace when we return," he said.

The Cougars' defense that first year under Mendenhall was rough.
Five opponents scored 33 or more points on BYU, including 58 by
Colorado State and 50 by Boise State in a 4-8 season. But BYU did
rank 14th nationally in total defense, holding opponents to 307
yards per game.

This season the averaged jumped to 377.2 yards per game, but the
Cougars won more, going 5-6 thanks in part to the defense keeping
BYU in some games.

Mendenhall grew up in Alpine, about 15 miles north of Provo, and
his father and brother played for BYU.

When he announced his resignation, Crowton said it was time for
new leadership after BYU went 14-21 over the last three, the
school's worst three-year run since the early 1960s. BYU's three
consecutive losing seasons are the first for the school since six
in a row from 1959-64.

Crowton replaced LaVell Edwards after the 2000 season. Edwards
turned BYU into one of the most successful and entertaining
programs in the country before retiring after 29 years as Cougars
coach. Crowton acknowledged when he resigned that following Edwards
proved to be his biggest challenge at BYU.