We know that Virginia Cavaliers football coach Bronco Mendenhall has his quirks. His players have to earn their jersey numbers every year, he takes 90 minutes out of every day at such a demanding job for quiet self-reflection, and he gives his staff every Sunday off when most coaches are already back at work to dissect the previous day’s game.
Another of his idiosyncrasies is taking a lap around the field before the game.
“I come out, I walk around down our sideline — not in the end zone, but out of the end zone underneath the goalpost — and just make one loop,” Mendenhall said on his radio show Tuesday night. “[It’s] just a reminder to me how lucky I am to be coaching, but also to acknowledge that I’ve been on both sides, home and away.
“But there’s also something symbolic to me of even though there’s an opponent, those kids and coaches are still — we probably have more in common with them than not, so it just adds a little perspective and a little normalcy before the game starts as to what we’re really doing.”
Mendenhall started this tradition out of “nervousness” and as an outlet for energy that otherwise wouldn’t get put to good use just sitting around the locker room. “We’re there two hours before the game, what are you going to do?”
Compare that to UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett, who dislikes that pregame alone time so much that he doesn’t like to show up to John Paul Jones Arena until an hour and a half before game time at most, as detailed by The Washington Post’s Kent Babb back in March.
Regardless of how and why Mendenhall spends his time on David A. Harrison III Field before games, one would hope that he doesn’t have a similar pastime after games. Cavalier fans and students, including Bennett’s own team, stormed the field after the Hoos upset the then-No. 16 Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night.