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Mendenhall steps down as Virginia’s head football coach

By Jerry Ratcliffe

bronco mendenhall

Photo: UVA Athletics

Bronco Mendenhall, who guided Virginia’s football program for the past six years, shocked Wahoo Nation on Thursday afternoon when he announced he was stepping down.

Mendenhall, who led the Cavaliers to a 36-38 record, including 6-6 this season, will coach UVA through its bowl game. This will be the fifth straight year that Virginia has been bowl eligible.

In an unusually long virtual press conference this afternoon, Mendenhall said his decision started Sunday and continued through Thursday. He met with his coaching staff at 4:45 and his team at 5 p.m. today before meeting with media.

Most of his staff followed Mendenhall from BYU to UVA, and so his announcement was emotional.

“Tears, shock, sadness, disbelief,” Mendenhall said of the meeting. “It’s going to take time to process.”

Mendenhall said the past month, which consisted of four straight losses, including a gut-wrenching loss to rival Virginia Tech last Saturday, did not influence his decision, but rather reevaluating his life, which he does after each season.

“I’ve been a head coach for 17 years in a row, and 31 years straight of football,” Mendenhall said. “I’ve been married to Holly for 25 years.”

The coach said it was time to pause and decide what’s next.

“Holly is stunned and shocked, too,” Mendenhall said. 

“Clearly this week was a sense of clarity to me, to step back from college football and reassess.”

Mendenhall said that both UVA president Jim Ryan and athletic director Carla Williams asked him to stay.

In a written statement, Williams talked about working with Mendenhall the past few years.

“It has been a privilege to have Bronco Mendenhall direct the Virginia football team over the past six seasons,” Williams said. “He has done an exceptional job of not just transforming the program, but elevating the expectations of 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.”

Mendenhall guided UVA to its first and only ACC Coastal Division title in 2019, a spot in the ACC Championship game and into the Orange Bowl.

More coming up, including where does UVA go next?

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