In Bronco Mendenhall’s 11 years as head coach of BYU, not once did the Cougars miss out on a bowl game. During that same period, the Virginia Cavaliers only made a bowl game twice. It comes as no surprise, then, that Mendenhall is looking to make changes throughout the program — everything from the playbook to the game day experience.
We’ve summarized Mendenhall’s changes to date below, so that you know what to expect come September 3 at 3:30 p.m. when Richmond comes to town.
1. New uniforms are here.
As we reported yesterday, Mendenhall has revamped the team’s uniforms, with just three primary uniforms: blue jerseys and helmets for home games, all-white for away games, and, for special occasions, orange jerseys and helmets. The helmets have not one, not two, but three stripes across the top. The inside of the collar at the base of the neck says, “WAH HOO WAH.” Mendenhall explained his reasoning behind the new uniforms, which give a nod to Virginia football history while providing some modern updates.
2. Wahoo Walk is gone.
Previously, two hours before kickoff, the players walked down Engineer’s Way down to Whitehead before turning down Stadium Road and into Scott Stadium, with fans outlining the path and cheering on the Hoos. This has been eliminated entirely.
3. Adventures of Cav Man is gone.
We’re hearing mixed results on this one, but the animated pre-game video featuring Cav Man has been eliminated entirely, and replaced with a new pre-game video, following a slow and subtle trend in Scott Stadium as this portion of the pre-game festivities have been downplayed. The Cavalier riding in on Sabre, the real-life horse, will stay though.
As Mendenhall was quoted in a recent Jeff White article, the Cavalier’s entrance reflects the pace at which Virginia intends to approach each game.
“He's not coming out at a trot, and he's not coming out at a walk. There is an intentional direction and speed, with a drawn sabre [to show] we mean business, and we're lucky to actually get a chance to do something about it.“
4. Diamonds are back in the end zones.
“I think it’s classic,” Mendenhall said of the diamond overlay in the end zone with the letters of VIRGINIA in the diamonds. Looking back to a picture hanging outside his office of Virginia beating Florida State, the stadium was jammed full of fans, covering the hill, standing on the concourse, and so forth. With the diamonds in the end zone, Mendenhall thought, “this is UVA Football. No matter who comes into the stadium, they’re really not welcome in terms of the outcome. And it will take all of us -- our team, our coaches and the community — to return it to that.”
5. Free programs are back.
At some point in recent years, Virginia stopped handing out free programs that included things like both teams’ rosters, etc. According to White, fans will now be offered a free game when they get to Scott Stadium.
6. New concessions offerings.
No word on what these new concessions items might be, but any time the concession stands gets an upgrade, this guy is all for it. Somehow, eating 12 hours of tailgate food before the game has no effect when it comes to funnel cake and fried Oreo consumption.
These new changes are, of course, intended to revitalize a fan base that has had waning interest in the football program over the past few years, with Scott Stadium hovering just above 50% capacity
By making these changes, including the uniform changes, Mendenhall said that he wanted to “acknowledge the past while looking forward to a really, really bright future.”