There was one caveat to Howell being named the defensive coordinator after Mendenhall had filled the role for two and a half seasons. Mendenhall will still call the plays during games, and he won't be completely hands off the defense. The two will work together to coordinate the defense, which probably goes a long way in explaining the poll results.
Almost half of all poll respondents (48%) think the new assignments will have no effect on the way the BYU defense plays in 2013. Another 42 percent of voters think the change will have a positive effect. The other 10 percent of voters were undecided.
In the press release, Mendenhall explained that Howell has, pretty much, been serving as the defensive coordinator already and assigning him this title is more of a formality than anything else. That leads me to feel the same as the 48 percent.
Mendenhall has built an amazing defense the last two years. BYU has been in the top 15 nationally both seasons, including a top 3 finish last year. It doesn't seem likely that he would step away, even if it is just a half-step, from the defense without feeling very comfortable with Howell and the impacts this may have. Having Mendenhall call defensive plays in games also goes a long way in feeling there will be no drop off in the defense this year under the new leadership structure.
When the 2013 season arrives, fans will have to remember that the Cougar D is replacing two-time leading tackler Brandon Ogletree, likely NFL first round draft pick Ezekiel Ansah, two-year starter Uona Kaveinga, and three-year starter Romney Fuga. Although fans should feel pretty good about the replacements, there will be some drop off, so if there is a bad game early in the year it should not be assumed that it is because of the coaching change.
Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "Who will be BYU's second leading receiver in 2013?"