Of all the turns on the college football coaching carousel that have been happening this week, no one expected the Virginia Cavaliers to take a space. That’s the case now that Bronco Mendenhall had made the shocking announcement that he is stepping down as head coach after six seasons.
The 55-year-old told reporters it was his decision to leave.
— Natalie Kalibat (@NatalieKalibat) December 2, 2021
“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,” he said. “I was requested to stay by our athletic director. I was requested to stay by our president. It’s my decision only.”
Mendenhall came to Charlottesville in 2016 after 11 seasons as the head coach at BYU. He rebuilt the ACC program quickly, getting to six wins by his second season and leading Virginia to three bowls, including an Orange Bowl in 2019. Mendenhall said he would coach Virginia in their upcoming bowl game after a 6-6 season.
#UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall says it's "uncertain" how the program will handle recruiting heading into early signing day, now that he's announced his resignation following the bowl game.
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) December 2, 2021
“It has been a privilege to have Bronco Mendenhall direct the Virginia football team over the past six seasons,” said Virginia athletics director Carla Williams. “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.”
Mendenhall leaves with an overall record of 135-81 in 17 years, the eighth-best winning percentage among current FBS head coaches (.625).
It’s safe to say that the reaction across the college football world upon hearing the news was shock and surprise.
— Mike McAllister (@McAllisterMike1) December 2, 2021
#coachingcarousel continues to spin. I didn't see this one coming.
…maybe Bronco wants to come back to his alma mater as a DC (I kid…but maybe?) https://t.co/PmuJjO91WN
— Angie Machado (@AngieMachado1) December 2, 2021
I did not see this one coming https://t.co/0Gu9T6GnVT
— Walk-On Redshirts (@walkonredshirts) December 2, 2021
— Kurt Benkert (@KurtBenkert) December 2, 2021
It sounds like Mendenhall is stepping away to focus on some family issues, which is certainly fair enough. Of course, if he does resurface in a few weeks or even next year at a new school, there are going to be questions about the authenticity of this move (See: Meyer, Urban). But until then, you have to take the guy at his word and that, for now, his coaching career is complete.