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Bronco Mendenhall addresses timeline, reasons for taking UVA job in departure press conference

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Virginia's new head football coach, Bronco Mendenhall, addressed the media in Provo after deciding to accept the job.  While Virginia fans were in the dark about Mendenhall's hiring process for the past week, he discussed what happened during the presser.

First, it's notable that Bronco hinted that he had always intended to eventually leave BYU: "Holly and I both believed that at some point we would know at the end of each when it's not our time to be here anymore, and it would be somebody else's turn. And we've taken a hard look at that every year."

Bronco actually confessed seven years ago that he was "not a long term coach" at BYU.  It seems unusual for a coach to be so open about his future career prospects (rather than defaulting to "coachspeak" about his commitment ).

Virginia contacted Bronco Mendenhall after the team's regular season finale against Utah State and interviewed this past Monday. Mendenhall, who has been targeted before by "search firms," noted that this particular search firm had him on their radar since last summer, believing him to be a potential fit at Virginia (though Bronco himself was not involved until after his team's season).

Mendenhall called a team meeting for 5 PM (ET), and didn't arrive until 5:05 PM, because he was finishing signing his contract. (He received the terms about 3 hours prior, and deliberated during that time.)  The players were surprised and expressed "sadness, anger, shock, and all different things." Virginia announced his hiring shortly after.

Mendenhall will leave Sunday morning to head to Charlottesville, and will be announced at a press conference on Monday at 10 AM before returning to Provo Monday night. He'll stay there through BYU's bowl game (the Las Vegas bowl is on December 19th) before moving with his family. Bronco will contract UVA signees and recruits by phone before meeting with them "after the new year"

Here are a few other notes from the presser.  The full video follows:

  • Bronco said one of his children described "the east" as "like some foreign planet."
  • The press conference was an emotional one. Bronco wiped away tears multiple times, particularly when BYU's athletic director thanked him for his service
  • BYU AD Tom Holmoe spoke to Craig Littlepaige, and told him: "You got a great guy, and he can change a football team in a big way"
  • Mendenhall: "Virginia reminds me a lot of BYU when I was named the head coach here. I see tremendous chance for growth and opportunity. I like to build, I like challenge, I like growth, and I like learning. I see a fantastic challenge and opportunity with real and tangible results that can happen. And I am passionate to help the student-athletes there experience that."
  • BYU is scheduled to play a home-and-home with UVA in 2019 and 2020. Mendenhall said "if it's up to me, that game won't happen." I'd imagine that the schools will work something out to get this series off the schedule.
  • Mendenhall will make $3.25 million per year at UVA, but said money mattered to him "very little" - rather, he looked for the opportunities available to build a program. Similarly, he dismissed the importance of "tangibles" like lower expectations in terms of wins, instead focusing on "challenge, and change, and growth"