New Mexico hires former BYU and Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall

Mendenhall's teams have won 135 games over his 17 seasons as a head coach

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23: Virginia Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall looks on during a game between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Virginia Cavaliers on October 23, 2021, at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, VA (Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Bronco Mendenhall's teams have played in 14 bowl games in his 17 seasons as a head coach. (Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Former BYU and Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is back in college football.

New Mexico announced Wednesday that Mendenhall would be its new head coach. New Mexico was in the market for a coach after parting ways with Danny Gonzales.

Mendenhall, 57, has spent the last two seasons out of college football after he stepped down from Virginia following the 2021 season. He said that he needed to “step back” from college football at the time of his decision to leave the Cavaliers, but made it clear that he could return to coaching in some capacity in the future.

“After 25 years, Holly and I are excited to be returning to Albuquerque where we have many fond memories,” Mendenhall said in a New Mexico statement. “We welcome the challenge and opportunity of building a program of excellence. We are excited to get to know the players, assemble a world-class group of people, immerse ourselves in the community and truly make a difference at UNM.”

Mendenhall has been incredibly successful during his 17-year tenure as a head coach. After taking over BYU in 2005, the Cougars won at least 10 gams in five of his first seven seasons. BYU never finished below .500 in his 11 years with the school and had a winning record in 10 of those seasons.

He made the somewhat surprising move to Virginia in 2016 and the Cavaliers went 2-10 in his first season. But Virginia then went to thee consecutive bowl games from 2017-19, and the Cavaliers went 11-11 over his final two seasons.

Virginia has won just six games combined in the two seasons since Mendenhall’s departure. Overall, his teams have earned a 135-81 record across 17 seasons. Before he was a head coach at BYU, Mendenhall spent time as New Mexico's defensive coordinator.

New Mexico went 4-8 in 2023 and is looking for its first bowl appearance since going 9-4 under former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie in 2016. Heck, five wins would be an achievement at this point. The four wins in 2023 were the most in a single season for the Lobos since that 2016 season.

New Mexico was 11-32 in Gonzales’ four seasons with the team. He took over after the school parted ways with Davie following a 2-10 season in 2019.