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Is Bronco Mendenhall a ‘perfect fit’ for the Stanford job? Media experts weigh in

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

FILE - Virginia Cavalier coach Bronco Mendenhall walks onto the field prior to a game with Notre Dame in Charlottesville, Va., on Thursday Nov 13, 2021. Mendenhall, who resigned as the Cavaliers coach after the 2021 season and was BYU’s coach from 2005-2015, is listed among the early coaching candidate pool to replace Stanford’s David Shaw.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Another college football head coaching position opened out west when Stanford’s David Shaw resigned following the Cardinal’s 35-26 loss to BYU Saturday night.

Could a BYU tie be his replacement?

A look at early coaching candidate lists for the job suggest it is possible.

Former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, who resigned last year after six years at Virginia, showed up on several lists of potential replacements for Shaw in the hours after he stepped down.

Is Bronco Mendenhall a potential candidate for the Stanford job?

Here’s a sampling of why these national experts think Mendenhall could be the solution at Stanford.

From Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: “Judging by reports, Bronco is interested in getting back into the game. He reportedly interviewed at Colorado after stepping down at Virginia last December. Mendenhall won 99 games at BYU and shepherded the program into its independence era. At Virginia, he steadied the program winning at least eight twice in six seasons. He is a culture and program builder; in other words, just about a perfect fit for Stanford.”

From Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: “Mendenhall stepped down as Virginia’s head coach after the ‘21 season, but the Utah native has been mentioned for openings this year, likely indicating a willingness to return to the sideline. Mendenhall went 8-17 in his first two years with the Cavaliers but proceeded to go 28-21 with a Coastal Division title over the last four seasons in charge. Mendenhall also went 99-43 at BYU from 2005-15. He’s 135-81 overall as a head coach at the FBS level.”

From Chris Vannini, The Athletic: “Former Virginia and BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has experience winning at places with high or unique standards. He’s 135-81 as a head coach, including 34-28 in his final five years at UVa. He’s a defensive coach by trade, though Virginia had one of the most explosive passing offenses in the country in his final years there. The 56-year-old Mendenhall stepped away from Virginia on his own last year but made sure to say it wasn’t a retirement. He’s been in the mix for the Colorado job.”

From Adam Rittenberg, ESPN: “He’s not afraid of taking on a struggling program at an academically rigorous school. Mendenhall left a comfortable situation at BYU for Virginia, which was coming off four consecutive losing seasons. He led the Cavaliers to the ACC title game in Year 4 and had only one losing regular season before surprisingly stepping down last year. Mendenhall, 56, seemingly wants to return to the sideline and had been in the mix for Colorado’s coaching vacancy this year. He’s 135-81 in the FBS and has Pac-12 roots as a former Oregon State player and defensive coordinator.”

Are any other Utah ties potential candidates for the Stanford job?

A few other names with Utah ties cropped up on these Stanford coaching candidate lists, among them former Utah offensive coordinator Troy Taylor (now Sacramento State coach), Weber State coach Jay Hill and former Utah State defensive coordinator Dave Aranda (now Baylor coach).

“A West Coast fixture, Taylor has made it known he is ready to make the leap to a Power Five job. His name has been attached to the Colorado search,” Dodd wrote of Taylor. “When Bill Musgraves was fired as offensive coordinator at Cal, Taylor’s name immediately popped up at his alma mater. In two seasons with Taylor as Utah offensive coordinator (2017-18), the Utes went 16-11 and advanced to the Pac-12 Championship Game in 2018.”

“Elsewhere in the FCS, Weber State head coach Jay Hill is 68-38 in nine seasons, including a 10-2 record this year,” Vannini wrote of Hill. “He took over a 2-10 program and is likely heading to a fifth top-10 finish in six years. Before Weber State, Hill spent 13 years as a Utah assistant.”

“Aranda, 46, has shown he can coach in different environments, but his distinctly cerebral approach would be fully embraced at a program like Stanford,” Rittenberg wrote of Aranda. “He also doesn’t mind tackling challenges like NIL and the portal. There’s a lot keeping Aranda in Waco, Texas, but Stanford should pursue him nonetheless.”