The Virginia Cavaliers will play their first regular season neutral-site game in nearly 30 years at 4:30 on Saturday, as they take on the Ohio University Bobcats and Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The game was moved from Charlottesville to the home of the Commodores due to Hurricane Florence’s potential impact on Virginia late this week and into the weekend. UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall addressed the decision to relocate on his weekly radio show Tuesday night.
It was a long process that happened quickly, Mendenhall said. “As of [Monday], we were then considering how possibly for this game to be played, and if it can be played, and considering different locations and what might be able to be done. I’ve been really impressed with our athletic director [Carla Williams], her support of our team, and of our players.
“She wants us to continue building our program. She wants our players to be safe, she wants our coaches as families to be safe, and she’s looking for viable opportunities to do all of that at the same time ... about 3:30 is when final approval came.”
He further detailed the logistics of the process on the ACC teleconference on Wednesday.
“I was not involved in finding a venue other than in principle. There were a number of options, [with the] priority being neutral site if possible, knowing that it was scheduled for us to be a home game, with the secondary option of possibly just scheduling and playing on the road at Ohio,” said Mendenhall.
“Again, knowing that it was a home game, my preference was then to find a neutral site for both teams...meaning that it wouldn’t be affiliated with either conference, either, and it would be relatively close and have as much parity as possible in terms of travel, and so there were a couple of sites. All I was involved in was that point, and then the administration took it from there.”
“We found one hotel that can accommodate us for Thursday night. The same hotel can’t accommodate us for Friday, so we’ll be changing hotel, so our support staff and operations crew has been working more around the clock, and it’s probably affected them more than it has myself and the team.”
Mendenhall has not coached at Vanderbilt before, and it will be his first game in an SEC Stadium since the BYU Cougars’ 2011 opener at Ole Miss. It’s also Virginia’s first game on an SEC campus since 2003, when the Hoos lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia.