Pac-12 Wrestling: Coaching Conundrum Pt.2
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Pac-12 Wrestling: Coaching Conundrum Pt.2

The Boise State Broncos

Pac-12 Wrestling: Coaching Conundrum Pt.2

Boise State’s downturn in performance is very similar to that of Cal Poly since the great team performances at the turn of the decade (see my analysis of the Pac-12 in the 2010s in Renaissance). Since long-time Head Coach Greg Randall was released in April as reported by the Idaho Statesman, Boise State joined the search for a new leader. Fresno State picked up Troy Steiner earlier in May and shortly after, Boise State ran another conference shattering headline: the Broncos hired (now)-former Cal-State University, Bakersfield Head Coach Mike Mendoza.

Mendoza Leaves Bakersfield

(Coaches Efren Ceballos and Mike Mendoza, L-R, pictured here at the 2014 Pac-12 championships; Photo: Tony Rotundo/

This hire honestly came as a huge surprise for me. Echoing the sentiment of Willie Saylor and CP (hosts of the FlowrestlingRadioLive podcast), I didn’t really want Mendoza to leave CSUB especially after the solid overall year the CSU-Bakersfield Roadrunners turned in for the 2015-2016 season. As discussed on FRL ep. 118 (near the 44 minute mark), Mendoza was one of two finalists for the head coaching job at Boise State (the other reportedly being 2006 NCAA champion for the Broncos under Randall, Ben Cherrington). Based on my California bias, the departure of Mendoza from CSU-Bakersfield was virtually a personal offense. Mendoza, a 1999 graduate of Bakersfield, appeared to have found a home at his alma mater, becoming an assistant in 2002 (coincidentally the same year Randall was promoted to Head Coach at BSU) before becoming the Head Coach at the start of the 2010-11 season. Mendoza’s departure comes off one of the best season performances from the Roadrunners of Bakersfield in years, and I assume Mendoza will carry at least a piece of the momentum into the Bronco program. We will have to wait-and-see in Bakersfield now that the Roadrunner program is in limbo (though the administration in Bakersfield has made it clear the program is well-supported and here to stay), weeks after Fresno State found its own leader.

Bronco Wrestling in the 2010s

(Geordan Martinez after winning his 2nd Pac-12 Title; Photo: Tony Rotundo/

The Boise State Broncos started the 2010s hot, capturing Pac-12 conference team-titles in 2008, ‘09, and ‘11 while finishing runner-up in 2010, ‘12, and ‘13. Despite its runner-up finish in 2010, the Broncos bounced back at the NCAA championships to lead the Pac-12 with an 11th-place finish with two All-Americans (incl. a national finalist). In 2011, the Broncos finished in a school-record 9th-place with three All-Americans (again, incl. a national finalist) with the entire ten-man team qualifying for NCAAs for the first-time in program history. A huge hiccup occurred the following year, 2012, when the Broncos slid to 51st at NCAAs before Jason Chamberlain returned for his redshirt-senior season, where he powered the Broncos to a 19th-place team finish in 2013. He was their lone All-American as a national runner-up alongside three blood-round finishers.

While the Broncos led the Pac-12 at NCAAs in 2014, this stat is particularly misleading, as they finished in 25th (though they still earned an All-American). 2015 was the start of some serious problems for the Broncos, when they failed to earn an All-American and fell to 43rd at NCAAs. This past season, Geo Martinez (the new face of the program) was able to nab AA honors placing 8th at 149lbs for Boise State as the program stalled at 43rd-place for the second straight year.

The poor performances since 2012 set the stage for Randall’s eventual release as well as Mendoza’s starting point with the program. Mendoza has a diamond with Geo Martinez, who enters his junior year as a 2x Pac-12 Champion, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and the lone returning All-American on the roster. Coach Mendoza will also have returning redshirt-seniors Rami Haddadin and Austin Dewey, both of whom finished a win away from qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

The Long-Haul

Mike Mendoza becomes only the second coach to follow Boise State legend Mike Young (who was at the helm of the Bronco program from 1970-2002, before then-assistant Greg Randall took over from 2002-2016). If the tradition of long-tenures hold, Mendoza will be trusted to build a solid foundation and expected to produce long-term results, not short-term flashes. If Boise State is looking for long-term results, Mendoza’s record at Bakersfield fits the bill quite well. Mendoza lead the Roadrunners for six seasons as head coach and brought them back from obscurity to one of their best performances in recent memory: a Pac-12 leading 4-1 conference duals record and a 3rd-place finish at Pac-12s with five NCAA qualifiers.

Recruiting will be an interesting facet for Mendoza at Boise State, as Bakersfield’s talent comes predominantly from the Bakersfield area and I would assume Mendoza would be most familiar with this area. Given that CSU-Bakersfield has monopolized its recruiting pool, Mendoza will likely have to test new waters and recruit in-state talent from Idaho as well as from Utah and Washington state, which has produced Bronco legends Adam Hall, Jason Chamberlain, Kirk Smith, and Andrew Hochstrasser, among others. A dramatic turnaround of the Bronco program seems unlikely in a single season, but I could see the Broncos returning to prominence in a few years.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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