Virginia HC Bronco Mendenhall to Step Down After Cavaliers' Bowl Game

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 3, 2021

Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall on the sideline during an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

University of Virginia head football coach Bronco Mendenhall said a desire to "reinvent" himself led to his decision to step down from leading the Cavaliers' program at season's end.

Mendenhall explained Thursday's announcement came after a week of self-reflection, and he added he was not influenced by UVA athletic director Carla Williams or university president Jim Ryan, who both asked him to stay, per Hank Kurz Jr. of the Associated Press.

"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," Mendenhall said.

He added: "It's just a chance after 31 years straight to step back ... and reinvent myself and our family and our purpose. Holly, my wife, is a little shocked, too."

Mendenhall took over at Virginia in 2016. It marked his second head-coaching job after spending the previous 11 years at BYU.

The 55-year-old overcame some early growing pains while rebuilding the program, including a 2-10 mark in his first season with the Cavs, but the team showed progress during a two-year stretch in 2018 and 2019, when it posted a 17-10 combined record.

Virginia's improvement stalled over the past two years, however, with a 5-5 record in 2020 being followed by a 6-6 mark so far this season. The Cavaliers are bowl-eligible, so they will have a chance to send their coach out out a high note.

Mendenhall's overall record with UVA stands at 36-38 after he compiled a 99-43 mark at BYU.

"The next journey will be uncovered as we go, and hard to uncover it if there's not a pause and contemplation and reflection, so that's what I'm choosing to do," Mendenhall said.

He didn't rule out a return to coaching, a profession he's worked in for more than three decades.

"This isn't to break and pause and then become irrelevant," he added. "This is actually to break and pause to then become hopefully more impactful in helping and developing and teaching and serving others is what I'm hopeful. So I'm excited about that. What is it going to look like? I don't know."

Meanwhile, Williams called it a "privilege" to have Mendenhall lead the program for the past six years.

"He has done an exceptional job of not just transforming the program, but elevating the expectations for the program," the Virginia AD said. "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."

The Cavaliers will find out the final game of Mendenhall's tenure when the bowl matchups are announced Sunday.