BYU Football has a tradition of winning but it wasn't always that way.
In college sports the only thing that can remain consistent year to year is the Head Coach. Quarterbacks come and go as well as every other position on the team. Assistant Coaches rarely last more than five years before leaving for greener pastures or being fired. Head Coaches are the most consistent part about College Football.
BYU has not had a lot of Head Coaches compared to other programs around the country. The average FCS and G5 teams have coaches that come and go every four years. This offseason alone, 14 G5 programs hired new coaches while only nine P5 programs hired new coaches. That leaves 107 coaches from last season coming back in 2019.
BYU Football Head Coaches have averaged 6.8 seasons each, much higher than the national average. The University of Arkansas has had 27 Head Coaches for an average of 4.2 seasons, consistent with the national average.
But how do these coaches rank? While the first one if predictable, the other 13 aren't as clear.
14. Hal Mitchell 1961-1963: Overall Record 8-22
Mitchell was the Head Coach when the Cougars transitioned from the the Skyline Conference to the WAC, which was probably his greatest achievement. He played in the NFL for a few years, which was probably where he was best in the game of football.
13. Floyd Millet 1942: Overall Record 2-5
Floyd Millet only coached the Cougars for one season that saw them go 2-5. He also was the Head Basketball Coach and went 104-77. Probably best he stuck with basketball only after one season. He did randomly beat Utah for the first time ever as an NCAA sanctioned team and the first time since 1897.
12. Tally Stevens 1959-1960: Overall Record 6-15
Stevens didn't do much while coaching for the Cougars but at least his overall record wasn't...well yeah it was pretty bad.
11. Charles Atkinson 1949-1955: Overall Record 18–49–3
In today's game he would never remain the coach for six seasons. He did have one nice season in 1951 where the team went 6-4-1, a really good record for the Cougars at that time. He also had a 0-11 season in 1949 which sort of offsets that though.
10. C.J Hart 1925-1927: Overall Record 6-12-2
Hart was part of the BYU physical education program until the 1960's but only the Head Coach for three seasons. While his record is awful, there is a chance without his coaching the team would have not continued into the 1930's.
9. Harold Kopp 1956-1958: Overall Record 13-14-3
Harold Kopp had a lot of potential for BYU Football having winning seasons in 1957 and 1958 before being dismissed from the school for NCAA rule breaking. Kopp did beat Utah in 1958, something that had only been done once in the previous 33 games.
8. Alvin Twitchell 1922-1924: Overall Record 5-13-1
While Twitchell wasn't a great coach, he was the Cougar's first, which deserves some recognition. It can't ever be easy to take a team from a club sport to an NCAA sanctioned sport, but that is what Twitchell did, and he did it with a somewhat respectable record for a new team.
7. Tommy Hudspeth 1964-1971: Overall Record 39-36-1
Hudspeth wasn't the greatest coach winning wise, however his recruiting and playing style may be what drew Lavell Edwards into BYU from an interest standpoint goes. Although he had been the an assistant coach for years, the winning may have kept Lavell from leaving somewhere else. Hudspeth had a really nice stretch from 1965-67 when the Cougars went 20-10 overall, something unheard of for BYU Football up to that point. He won the team's first ever WAC Championship and had to deal with a lot of issues off the field with recruiting marines and desegregating the team. His hard work paid off though a bit while he was there, most definitely after he left. Hudspeth also produced Eldon Fortie, the first ever All-American for BYU. Overall, not a bad coach and the first of many good coaches for the Cougars.
6. Edwin Kimball 1946-1948: Overall Record 13-17-1
Kimball actually had winning seasons two of his three seasons with the Cougars. He also helped them transition from the Mountain States Athletic Conference to the Skyline Conference. While he wasn't the greatest coach he was a pretty good Athletic Director for BYU and was responsible for the change in conference, a move that was very helpful in eventually getting to the WAC.
5. Gary Crowton 2001-2004: Overall Record 26-23
What would have happened? While there were honor code violation issues that surrounded the BYU Football team during Crowton's time as the Head Coach, one has to wonder what would have happened if Crowton had stayed a bit longer. He recruited players like John Beck, Jonny Harline and Austin Collie but never got to see the reward of those recruits because he got the boot before they arrived.
4. Otto Romney 1928-1936: Overall Record 42-31
Romney was what I believe one of two coaches that advanced the BYU Football program along with Lavell Edwards. If Romney did not come in and make BYU a decent team, there is a very real chance that today BYU is a D-2 or FCS school. His best season came in 1932 when the Cougars went 8-1 overall, finishing second in the conference. Romney also was the Athletic Director for the Cougars while also coaching the track team.
3. Kalani Sitake 2016-Current: Overall Record 20-19
While the current Head Coach doesn't have the record to compete with the last few coaches ahead of him, the schedules that the Cougars have had to play have been the most difficult. There is also a lot of question as to whether Kalani had the coaching staff he really wanted his first two seasons. There is still a lot more in the Kalani Sitake story, the only question is which way will he move on the all time list.
2. Bronco Mendenhall 2005-2015: Overall Record 99-43
Bronco Mendenhall was under appreciated for what he did for BYU Football. Fans were demanding 10+ seasons every year and when it didn't happen fans got upset. Oh what we would give to go 9-4, Bronco's average record. Mendenhall took advantage of Crowton left behind and never had a losing record. His defensive mindset changed the culture of BYU Football from a high scoring machine to a balanced attack.
Mendenhall led the Cougars to four AP Top 25 finishes and six bowl game victories, most coming in the Las Vegas Bowl against Pac 10/12 competition.
1. Lavell Edwards 1972-2000: Overall Record 257-101-3
No surprise here. Lavell Edwards was and probably forever will be the greatest coach to ever lead the Cougars. Whether it was turning an average program into a yearly powerhouse contender to winning a National Championship or being the first team to ever win 14 games in a season, Lavell Edwards did it all. The legacy that Lavell Edwards left not only on BYU but in College Football in general will always affect the game of College Football.