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Could Bronco Mendenhall become a candidate for the Colorado job?

The former BYU and Virginia coach is taking a break from the profession but has a track record of rebuilding programs

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Virginia Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall walks onto the field prior to a game with Notre Dame.

Virginia Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall walks onto the field prior to a game with Notre Dame in Charlottesville, Va., on Thursday Nov 13, 2021. Mendenhall stepped down as the Cavaliers coach last season and is a hot name each time a coaching job opens this year.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Former BYU and Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is a popular name in the early list of potential candidates to replace Karl Dorrell as Colorado’s head football coach.

Dorrell was fired by the university on Sunday nearly halfway through his third season at the school, with the Buffaloes off to an 0-5 start to the season.

Mendenhall — who led the Cougars to a 99-43 record when he was there from 2005 to 2015 — stepped down as Virginia’s head coach at the end of last season, though he’s shown an interest in getting back into coaching.

“Really, the genesis of the idea, or the motive for this pause, is what it is, and it’s just a pause, and I look forward to recapturing the hearts and minds of young people, right, and helping them develop, and most likely, right, through the game of college football,” Mendenhall said recently during the debut episode of his “HeadCoachU” podcast with Bryan Fischer. “I’m not sure there’s something more impactful.”

There are currently five vacant Power Five coaching jobs just over a month into the 2022 season. That includes Wisconsin — the school first Paul Chryst on Sunday — as well as Arizona State, Nebraska and Georgia Tech.

Multiple news outlets — among them The Athletic, CBS Sports and the Denver Post — mentioned Mendenhall on their list of early candidates for the Colorado position

The 56-year-old Mendenhall, for that matter, has regularly been mentioned as a candidate for every open Power Five position, after helping revive the Virginia program during his six seasons there.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, in particular, had Mendenhall, a Utah native who’s currently living in Montana, as a lead candidate for the Buffaloes’ job.

“Mendenhall needed a reset in December when he left UVA. It was one of those Chris Peterson things where the job had just become too big. Bronco mentioned family obligations, but the buzz is that he has the bug again,” Dodd wrote. 

“This is just about the perfect fit. Mendenhall was 99-43 at BYU before an impressive 28-21 run at Virginia in his final five seasons. Mendenhall is about as real as it gets. After killing it at BYU and winning at least eight games twice at Virginia, he’d do well at a public university that is ready to spend money to be relevant again.”

The Athletic’s Chris Vannini cited that Mendenhall is known for his defensive expertise — he served as BYU’s defensive coordinator from 2003-04 — “but Virginia had one of the most explosive passing offenses in the country in his final years.”

The Post’s Matt Schubert questioned whether Mendenhall would be willing to take over a reclamation project like the Buffaloes have, something he did earlier in his career at both BYU and Virginia.

Excluding the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shortened season when Colorado went 4-2, the Buffaloes have just one season since 2005 with a winning record — in 2016, Colorado went 10-4.

Mendenhall joined the College GameDay podcast last week and outlined why he would be an appealing candidate for an open coaching position.

“I would argue there’s not a more prepared, rested, and focused head coach on Earth in Power Five than I am right now,” Mendenhall told Rece Davis on the podcast, per Football Scoop. “All that’s happened is solidifying my true intent, which is delivering, I think, really, really strong results, especially to rebuilding programs. 

“BYU was struggling when I inherited that program and we won for a long time. UVa, that was a struggling program when we started, and five bowl-eligible seasons in six years hadn’t been done in like 22 years.” 

Mendenhall, even at 56, said he’s “only getting warmed up” in his coaching career. 

“I love developing young people; I don’t think there’s a more impactful way to do it (than college football.) And, man, I’m young. I’m only 56, that’s only getting warmed up,” he said.