Virginia Bronco Mendenhall Coach Resigns After Failure

Bronco Mendenhall said the thought that it was time to do something else first came to him a day after his team lost to Virginia Tech.

In the days that followed, Virginia’s coach considered other solutions, but as the week went on, he felt more clear. He announced on Thursday that he would be stepping down.

Mendenhall will coach the Cavaliers in their woe, then abruptly end a six-year term in which “earn, not give” has become the mantra for the program and the upward trajectory has slowed significantly in the past two years.

“I’d say there’s been this build-up and a long amount of obvious things and thought, but clearly this week I have the clear feeling that I need to step back from college football and evaluate re, renew, adjust and reinvent, with my wife as a partner, our future and the next chapter of our lives,” Mendenhall said in a hastily organized conference call. gold with reporters.


The decision is his and his alone, Mendenhall said, adding that athletic director Carla Williams and university president Jim Ryan have asked him to stay.

“It was just an opportunity after 31 candid years to step back… and reinvent ourselves, our family and our purpose,” said Mendenhall, 55.

“Holly, my wife, was a bit shocked too,” he said.

With his two children on a mission trip for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his third going to college in January, Mendenhall said he looks forward to spending time with his wife without what he calls “the rhythm of off-season football” and explore his next path.

He doesn’t rule out re-training one day.

“This is not for breaking and pausing and then becoming irrelevant. This is really about breaking and pausing and then hoping to become more impactful in helping and growing and teaching and serving others is what I hope to do,” he said. “So I’m very excited about that. What will it look like? I do not know.”


Mendenhall said he told his staff at 4:45pm EST and his team at 5pm before starting a call with reporters at 5:30pm

Team response?

“They had similar reactions, tears, shock, sadness, disbelief, yes, and it will take time to process,” he said.

Mendenhall is 36-38 in Virginia and led the Cavaliers to four appearances in their only Atlantic Coast Conference title game two years ago. Virginia also had a 15-game losing streak to rivals Virginia Tech in 2019, but has lost its last four games of the season, including a 29-24 defeat to the Hokies on Saturday.

The Cavaliers finished the regular season 6-6. Mendenhall made a final decision four days later.

“This is a personal picture and just a bigger picture – that’s how I think – decisions,” he said, adding that losing streak wasn’t really a factor in his selection. .

The Hokies played that game with an interim coach. They introduced former Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry as their new coach on Thursday.


“The next journey will be discovered as we go, and it would be difficult to discover it without stopping and contemplation and reflection, so that is what I am choosing to do,” Mendenhall said.

He said he chose to make the announcement now in the hope that attention could be focused on the team and the good preparations the team made. The Cavaliers will find their bleak destination on Sunday.

Mendenhall arrived in Virginia after 11 seasons as a coach at BYU. It was also a surprising move. Native Utah is 99-43 with Cougars.

Virginia lost to the Championship Division’s Richmond, 37-20 in his first game, a result that revealed to him the tougher task than he had imagined ahead. The Cavaliers finished the next regular season 6-6 to end a bad drought, but lost 49-7 to Navy in the Military Bowl. They opted out of a previous season.


AP University Football Writer Ralph D. Russo and AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli contributed to this report.



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Huynh Nguyen

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