CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WTKR)- It wasn't the four game losing streak to end the season, unhappiness with UVA's administration or being frustrated with his team. Bronco Mendenhall simply decided it was time to step away from college football.
"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 shortly after the announcement of his resignation on Thursday evening.
The head coach said that athletic director Carla Williams and school president Jim Ryan asked him to stay and that this decision was solely his. Just wrapping up his 17th year of head coaching and 31st season of coaching in total, Mendenhall said he wants to "become a better version of himself." He pointed out that he and his wife will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in March and all they know is the rhythm of a football season.
"Holly, my wife's a little stunned and shocked, too," Mendenhall added. "But I believe a renewal and a pause and a re-framing and a reinventing and a reconnecting is necessary to then become the very best person I can be moving forward"
His wife is not the only one who was shocked. In addition to his family and fans, his staff, most of which came to Virginia with Mendenhall from BYU, and his team were also caught off guard.
"Tears, shock, sadness, disbelief," the head coach said of his assistants' and players' reactions. "It's going to take time to process."
Virginia announced Mendenhall's resignation a little after 5:00 PM on Thursday evening. He says he informed his staff at 4:45 PM and met with the team at 5:00 PM before holding a Zoom call with media members.
"These are my closest friends, and this is now their wives and kids who all came. I'm responsible for all of them and I love all of them" the head coach said of his assistant coaches. "We were very close before we took this journey. This is now inseparable and galvanized and welded to where you can't break it- and I just did in terms of now the paths become different."
Mendenhall is wrapping up his sixth season at the head of the Cavaliers and holds a record of 36-38. His first season saw the Wahoos finish 2-10, but the turnaround in culture was evident the following season as the program began to climb up the ranks. 2019 providing his biggest highlights with UVA winning its first ACC Coastal Division title and earning an Orange Bowl berth.
Virginia is 6-6 in 2021 and wrapped up the regular season on a four game skid that included a loss to Virginia Tech at home this past Saturday. The head coach will be with UVA for its bowl game later this month before clearing out his office.