Loyal Cougars

Survey: Most Cougar fans sticking with Bronco

Despite the hot discussion flying around social media, most BYU fans are sticking with Bronco Mendenhall.

Last January, Loyal Cougars put up a set of public opinion polls on Cougarboard about major BYU Athletic Department employees. This week, the latest version of polling shows that fans’ opinion of Bronco in late October 2014 is very close to how they felt as a group in January 2014.

The questions follow a simple format that mirrors Gallup’s presidential approval rating. For each coach and the Athletic Director, fans are asked if they strongly approve, approve, are neutral, disapprove, or strongly disapprove of the performance they see. This is also a distinction of if fans support the coach. Fans pay and cheer and more often than not support everyone as best they can. Approval of the overall job performance is a different question.

How much does the approval rating matter? Very little, I’d imagine. But it’s interesting to see, and it can be especially interesting to see how it changes over time.

It’s easy, especially on the Internet, to say that “everyone” feels one way or another, especially when the writer is one arguing that “everyone” holds that point of view.

Despite the very unscientific nature of these polls, their consistency over time seems to lend some credibility to them as a rough survey and a general impression of BYU fans that are committed enough to be posting and reading about BYU online.

Relying on these polls isn’t a big step above guessing blindly about how “everyone” feels about coaches, but it perhaps represents a slightly better informed opinion.

Let’s take a look at the results:

Tom Holmoe

Holmoe - Oct 2014

The former Cal coach and 49er enjoys strong and consistent support from BYU fans. His combined approval rating (strongly approve plus approve) has always been above 80%. Holmoe has a huge job guiding an independent BYU through the bumpy college football world, and fans look like they appreciate his work.


Bronco Mendenhall

Bronco - Oct 2014

In this small survey, BYU’s head coach had a combined approval rating of 63%, which is still a strong majority.

One thing that could be worrisome is that like Tom Holmoe, Bronco’s numbers are very similar to what they were in October of 2012. Even though the team had improved with wins and won the Poinsettia Bowl, BYU fans were the most skeptical about Bronco at the end of that year, rather than immediately in the aftermath of the 2012 Utah and Boise State games.


Brandon Doman / Nick Howell

Doman-Howell Oct 2014

Speaking of Brandon Doman, things do not look good for Nick Howell. Howell is perhaps a victim of the fans drawing upon a similar situation: the last time BYU promoted a young coach to coordinator from within the program. And Nick Howell doesn’t even have the NFL experience or recruiting wins Brandon Doman had going for him.

Fans are fans and when BYU gives up lots of points, it’s tough to find a reason to say that Nick Howell is doing a great job, although Bronco has given him a public vote of confidence.

Howell is also perhaps a victim of following a very, very good defensive coordinator. It’s easy for fans to say, “if only Bronco were still running the defense.”

Regarding the numbers, it is interesting to me that Howell’s and Doman’s combined disapproval rating in October 2014 and 2012 is nearly the same, 68% and 66% respectively.

Howell has five more regular season games and almost certainly a bowl game to show fans what else he can do as a defensive coordinator. Doman’s numbers had improved by the end of the 2012 season and Howell has the same opportunity over the next two months.


Robert Anae

Anae -- Oct 2014 Coming back to BYU has made Anae’s job tougher. Fans already remember what they perceived as mistakes from 2005-2010, so all those old wounds tend to get opened up with any discussion about BYU’s offense.

Despite this, Anae’s numbers are the strongest among current football coaches. BYU fans saw the top 25 offenses Anae put together and have seen he and his new staff bring back the offense after it struggled in 2011 and 2012. It seems like Anae has earned some trust from most BYU fans, but as with any coach, that will only last so long.


Dave Rose

Rose - Oct 2014

The only question with Dave Rose seems to be if fans strongly approve of him or if they only approve of him. Basketball at BYU is a different situation than football and Rose enjoys much support as a coach that has won, has recruited well, and has built the program over more than a decade into what it is today.

Interestingly, the last survey in January of 2014 was after a four game losing streak that did knock down Rose’s “strongly approve” numbers just a bit. Those numbers have only recovered slightly in the offseason, even after Rose led the team to a strong end of the season and an NCAA Tournament appearance.


  1. Sanpete

    October 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    You already emphasized the unscientific nature of these numbers, but it’s worth also pointing out that CougarBoard attracts a certain spectrum of fans and repels others, even among those committed enough to discuss BYU sports online. (I don’t post there mainly because the political atmosphere is stifling and the ham-fisted moderation actually reinforces that, but it isn’t hard to see why others wouldn’t post there for a variety of other reasons.) If CougarBoard is representative of BYU fans, I despair for BYU fandom. The amount of unwarranted, weak-hearted panic and vitriol towards the program, coaches, and players there at each bump in the road is I hope not reflective of how most fans feel. But who knows?

    Anae was the coach to hate a few years ago, and now look at him. The reasons for hating him were as weak as those now held against Howell. (Doman got a raw deal that way too, but Mendenhall needed someone he knew he could rely on in that position, since he knew less about offense than defense. How good or bad Doman really was is hard to say.) When BYU doesn’t live up to expectations, many naturally feel the need to take it out on someone.

    I’ve seen no clear cases of bad calls from Howell, or of bad coaching by him in other ways. Mendenhall is a great judge of defensive football and knows something about coaching it. His strong support for Howell, in combination with other easily visible explanations for the problems on defense, is pretty good evidence that he’s a very fine defensive coordinator.

  2. Sam

    October 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I hate everything about Bronco. I hate the way he pats himself on the back. I hate the cute talks that only he can.He is a cancer to BYU program. it has been a long 10 years with this guy. It is time for him to find a DC job somewhere since no one in the right mind is going to hire him as a head coach beside byu.

    • G of F

      October 23, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Long ten years? Winning seasons every year isn’t enough for you? Was the previous ten years any better? Or the ten before that?

  3. David

    October 24, 2014 at 1:26 am

    I hate to lose as bad as about anyone. I can’t even be able to count the disappointments I have had following the cougars for a long, long time. The only way I can deal with it is to remember that first of all it is football, and secondly it is BYU football. (not to mention the holes in the wall and the temper tantrums) It is what it is. To deal with the adversity the team has had this year I don’t think any rational person can get too excited about coaching changes. Could we do better? I doubt it? Could we do worse? Yes! Should we try? Not a good season to make that decision based on injuries IMHO.

    If you are into the 4 and 5 deep players on your roster in the middle of the season, I doubt you can expect much more than what we are seeing. Assignments are being missed. Fumbles, and stupid penalties are mostly technique and concentration. New players just don’t have the time in the drivers seat yet and there is some reason they weren’t the 1’s and the 2’s and the 3’s in the depth chart to begin the season. I do agree that some mistakes should never happen, and they have been happening at the worst possible times, which leans heavily on coaching and player concentration and preparation. Three or four practices to prepare for next opponent, teach assignments, and correct past mistakes and your back on the road again. That is a lot to get corrected in a short amount of time. Hang in there! BYU football will always take us on an emotional roller coaster ride every season. Pre-season hype generally doesn’t equal the end of the season hype or lack of. Only a handful of times has this happened since the 70’s. We have had a lot of good seasons, but few that met or exceeded the pre-season hype.

  4. Bronco sucks

    October 25, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Who is this moon?