There have been three cases in Bronco Mendenhall's life that he considered getting out of coaching.

On the path to BYU, through various relatively remote outposts across the country, there were times it was too much. And times the job wasn't enough.

But Mendenhall these days (now 46 years old) says he's found himself, his purpose. His convictions when it comes to the strength of football's scope beyond practices and scoreboards.

Yes, it includes motorcycles. Yes, it includes surfing. But it also involves charity.

The Holly and Bronco Mendenhall Foundation will have its second go at the Gridiron Rumble motorcycle ride and the Cowboy Ball later that day, May 19.

Mendenhall believes he's found his balance. It's no secret he is a private person at heart.

"If the cause is great enough," the eighth-year Cougar head coach said, "the personal preference goes away."

Mendenhall believes this is worth his time, clearly. He said the inaugural Cowboy Ball (Stephen's Foxtrotters Family Farm in Wallsburg) raised $80,000 for the team's Thursday's Heroes program that has the last few years served ill children to get them a chance to be closer to the team.

This year, Mendenhall said the goal is to raise more money while implementing a grant system to cover some medical needs.

Also, Mendenhall envisions the Hero status including not just a day, but an entire football weekend in Provo for the guests. 

Mendenhall credits his wife, Holly, for a lot of this tenacity at getting the foundation going. He says it's why her name comes first in the official name.

"She is equally as passionate," Mendenhall said. "And more at the grassroots level."

The Cowboy Ball will include silent-auction prizes in which the coach also give some of himself, including a trip to Costa Rica that features surfing lessons.

Mendenhall cherishes smaller settings, and that's been his family's one request on this: The attendees for the boots-and-big-hats ball — "Halloween for some, and everyday dress for others," the coach quipped — will be limited to 200.

Tickets at $200 apiece can be purchased at for the event that includes dinner and dancing.

There will be fewer items auctioned off, but with greater "experience value," the coach said. 

He said all of this goodwill has been not only valuable but imperative to his career. The values, he said, have allowed his family to be involved. His three young boys also help at the ball in various forms. They've also played parts in the Hero program.

"We've been given so much in this position," Mendenhall said. "It could easily become only about us. But we would like it to become how to help others."

Mendenhall has spent time finding this, finding himself.

He recalls three times when he nearly walked away from football. He had been fired at Oregon State (his alma mater) and took a long look in the mirror. A new marriage and providing a living convinced him to stick around past 1996, and he found his way to Louisiana Tech.

"I didn't really have it sorted out then," he said.

His third year at New Mexico, 2000, Mendenhall privately groaned about the arduous weeks. But he said he "loved the kids there" and after considering it for "a long time" saw the impact it was having with Lobos off the field.

He hung around until 2003, you know by now, when Mendenhall moved closer to his Utah County roots by becoming BYU's defensive coordinator.

Now that it's been a perfect sparkle around here, either.

He said he took great stock after the 2008 season (his fourth as head coach) when the team went 10-3.

"I really felt strongly about what we were capable of," he said. "We didn't achieve it that year."

He knew that would be the most painful offseason, requiring administrative changes and a more keen introspection.

That's when charity became a greater role, too.

"I've met a lot of good people this way," Mendenhall said. "It's easy for me to have my heart captured by a good cause."


Jason Franchuk can be reached at Or follow him on Twitter, @harkthefranchuk