Bronco Mendenhall Gets 5-Year $6 Million Contract To Lead New Mexico's Football Team

FILE - Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall watches from the sideline during an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Pittsburgh. New Mexico hired Bronco Mendenhall as its new head football coach Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. The 57-year-old Mendenhall compiled a 135-81 record over 17 seasons at BYU and Virginia and was 7-7 in bowl games before he stepped away from coaching following the 2021 season. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
FILE - Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall watches from the sideline during an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Pittsburgh. New Mexico hired Bronco Mendenhall as its new head football coach Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. The 57-year-old Mendenhall compiled a 135-81 record over 17 seasons at BYU and Virginia and was 7-7 in bowl games before he stepped away from coaching following the 2021 season. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Bronco Mendenhall signed a five-year contract worth at least $6 million to take over New Mexico's football team, making him the highest-paid coach in program history.

The university released details of the agreement Thursday. It includes an annual base salary of $1.2 million and numerous incentives depending on the team’s performance on and off the field and ticket sales.

Mendenhall said during a news conference that New Mexico has a special place in his heart and he knows the team can be successful again. He talked about his early career at New Mexico, having served as the Lobos' defensive coordinator from 1998 to 2001.

“This program I know is capable of sustained success, continued success and excellence. I've been a part of it, I've seen it and I'm looking forward to recapturing that," he said.

The 57-year-old Mendenhall was 135-81 over 17 seasons at BYU and Virginia, going 7-7 in bowl games before stepping away from coaching following the 2021 season. He moved to Montana with wife Holly and spent time fishing and horseback riding before deciding to return to college football.

Mendenhall succeeds Danny Gonzales, who was fired in November after a 4-8 season at his alma mater. Gonzales was 11-32 in four seasons with the Lobos, who haven’t had a winning season since 2016.

Athletic director Eddie Nuñez said in a statement that New Mexico was looking for someone who had a clear vision of what the program could be and noted that Mendenhall twice turned around struggling programs and ended up winning championships.

All 11 of Mendenhall’s BYU teams went to a bowl and he guided Virginia to three bowl games, including the Orange Bowl in 2019. He was the Mountain West coach of the year in 2006.

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