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University of Virginia Head Football Coach Bronco Mendenhall Resigns After Six Seasons

James Murphy
by in NCAAF on
  • University of Virginia head football coach Bronco Mendenhall has announced his resignation after six seasons.
  • Mendenhall will continue to lead the program through its forthcoming bowl game.
  • Mendenhall came to Virginia after 11 years as the head coach at BYU.

University of Virginia head football coach Bronco Mendenhall has announced his resignation after six seasons at the helm. He will step down following Virginia’s forthcoming bowl game. The news came as something of a shock to the Virginia athletic department and college football media which seems to validate reports that Mendenhall’s decision to leave Charlottesville was made unilaterally.

Mendenhall came to Virginia after 11 seasons as the head coach at BYU. His long tenure in coaching is part of the reason for his decision to resign:

“I’ve been a head coach for 17 years in a row. I was an assistant 11 before then, and I was a graduate assistant two years before then. That’s 31 years straight of football. My wife and I will have been married 25 years in March. All we’ve known together is the rhythm of a football season. That’s all my kids have known, and this January, all three will be gone. Holly and I are empty nesters. And all they’ve known is the rhythm and cycle of football. We know what that looks like really, really well.”

He hasn’t ruled out returning to football in the future but for now he’s trying to get some perspective:

“I would love to say there’s been this buildup and a long amount of epiphanies and thought, but clearly this week there was a sense of clarity to me that I needed to step back from college football and reassess, renew, reframe and reinvent — with my wife as a partner — our future and the next chapter of our lives. I was requested to stay by our athletic director. I was requested to stay by our president. It’s my decision only.”

That said, it sounds as if Mendenhall’s ambitions extend well beyond the gridiron:

“I remember saying along the way that I would like the end of my life to add so much value that people forgot I was a football coach and they’d have to go back and look it up [and say], ‘Oh, wait, that guy, he coached football at some point.’”

“I’ve tried to add that value at the same time through football. But I would love for the next part to be helpful to others, impactful to others, inspiring to others, to do things of real value and substance. And maybe someone will remember, if I’m wearing an old ball cap or something: ‘Oh, wait, you used to be in football, right?’ ”

Mendenhall says the decision to step down was made quickly:

“Every year I redefine my purpose, and I have a purpose statement, and I put that on the screen, and then showed how this choice reflects that. That’s the framework I started from, and hard to talk and be emotional at the same time in front of people that you love. But I wanted them to understand that it’s nothing they did. I love them and trying to say, ‘OK, How can I add more impact to the world? Maybe after a refresh, a recalibration. It’s not sustainable, this pace, as a college football coach and as a head coach for that many years.'”

The move is to help him refocus and decide where he wants to go from here:

“If you really, really want to do it, right, not just winning, but if you really want amazing academics, if you want to really build great people, if you really want amazing character, if you really want to teach values, if you really want service to happen, that’s harder rather than easier. I want all of that and, I’m not gonna do it unless I feel energetic enough to do all that. I’m looking to continue to add value, not just ride it out.”

Virginia hasn’t been a dominant team since the George Welsh era but after a decade plus of inconsistency under Al Groh and Mike London at least Mendenhall created a sense of continuity. Virginia’s best season under Mendenhall came in 2019 when they went 9-5. He says that his time in Charlottesville has been:

“one of the most amazing journeys of my life to this point. I’ve met amazing people. And what an incredible challenge. Been at an iconic university, completely different part of the country, traveling in a pack with my dearest friends and their families … So lots of growth and experiences and things that have been imprinted on my soul. I’ve had the chance to work with what I believe is the very best athletic director on the planet. And Carla (athletic director Carla Williams) has become a dear friend, a trusted confidante, and exceptional leader that I’m so thankful for.”

AD Williams spoke effusively about Mendenhall after he announced his resignation:

“It has been a privilege to have Bronco Mendenhall direct the Virginia football team over the past six seasons. He has done an exceptional job of not just transforming the program, but elevating the expectations for the program. He has established the necessary foundation to propel our football team upward. He is more than a football coach, and the impact he has had on these young men will be a positive influence for the rest of their lives.”

Mendhenhall doesn’t know if his family will leave the Charlottesville area:

“There’s no better place on the planet than the HB3 and we don’t know how we could ever leave that place … We love this community, the people, the whole thing, and that’s what makes it even harder. So I don’t know yet. To be determined.”

“It was just like we see it exactly the same way, and there is now still more here at UVA to go and do and become. And Carla wants that. I want that. And I’m certain that whoever is chosen for our program will be exceptional. And whoever is lucky enough to join as an assistant coach and a player, it will be an amazing experience for them as it has been for me.”

Mendhenhall has had a reputation as a solid person as well as a first rate coach dating back to his days at BYU. A native of Alpine, Utah (located between Salt Lake City and Provo) the 55 year old Mendenhall could end up back in Utah though from the sound of it he’ll be doing something other than coaching–at least for the time being.

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