‘The Ultimate Compliment:’ Bronco Breaks The Rock

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics

What a range of emotions Bronco Mendenhall experienced on Friday as he watched his Virginia team upset Virginia Tech, 39-30, and end a 15-year losing streak to the rival Hokies.

Wahoo Nation watched with glee as they saw their head football coach prancing and dancing on the sidelines near the end of the huge UVA win. Former Cavalier All-American and All-NFL star Ray Roberts, watching the game at his home in Seattle, said on “The Jerry Ratcliffe Show” on Saturday that he was doing “The Bronco Dance” in his living room, right along with Mendenhall, as Virginia broke the streak.

Those emotions turned to joy and pride in the UVA locker room when players overruled their coach when it came to choosing someone to “Break the Rock,” a tradition that normally goes to the player of the game after a Cavalier win.

The players rewarded their coach with the honor (see attached video).

“That was great because we know how much work he puts in,” said UVA quarterback Bryce Perkins after the game. “Just to see him and all the emotions he has. Coach is not really a visibly emotional guy, but you know he cares so much about this program.

“It meant the world to us and all the players that have previously played for him to see him break the rock.”

When asked about the honor during his postgame press conference, Mendenhall became emotional.

“It’s the ultimate compliment,” Mendenhall said with his voice cracking before wiping away a tear of joy.

“I saw the beginning (of his regime at UVA) from the inside, not the outside. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever taken on.”

After a difficult 2-10 start in 2016, Mendenhall’s teams have gone 23-15 (17-8 the last two seasons with two more games to play), and three consecutive bowl games, not to mention Virginia’s first ACC Coastal Division crown.

The Cavaliers will take on No. 3 Clemson in the ACC Championship game next Saturday in Charlotte.

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