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Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall to resign after bowl game

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  • Bronco Mendenhall
    Bronco Mendenhall
    American college football coach

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is done after the 2021 season.

The school announced Thursday afternoon that Mendenhall, 55, would step down after the Cavaliers' bowl game. Virginia will find out Sunday where they will play.

“It has been a privilege to have Bronco Mendenhall direct the Virginia football team over the past six seasons,” Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said in a statement. “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."

There was no comment from Mendenhall in Virginia's release explaining the decision. In a news conference after the announcement, Mendenhall said that he made the decision to step down this week and that he was asked to stay through the bowl game by Williams and Virginia president Jim Ryan.   

He also left the door open to a potential return to college football in the future. 

Mendenhall 36-38 at Virginia

Virginia went 6-6 in 2021. The Cavaliers won four consecutive games after a 2-2 start but lost their last four games of the regular season. Those losses included games against BYU, Notre Dame, Pitt, and in-state rival Virginia Tech. Star quarterback Brennan Armstrong was injured in the BYU loss and has been playing injured since.

The 2021 season is the second consecutive .500 season for Virginia after a 5-5 campaign in 2020. The Cavaliers were 2-10 in Mendenhall’s first season in 2016 and have finished at .500 or above in every regular season since. The team’s best season came in 2019 when it finished 9-5 and went to the Orange Bowl.

Mendenhall came to Virginia after a long stint at BYU. Mendenhall was the coach at BYU for 11 seasons and compiled a career record of 99-43 in Provo. BYU failed to have a losing season in his tenure and the Cougars won at least 10 games in five seasons. His move from BYU to Virginia ahead of the 2016 season is as surprising as his decision to resign after the 2021 season.

Mendenhall has a career record of 135-81 as a head coach across 17 seasons and his teams are 7-7 in bowl games.

His resignation comes on the same day that Virginia Tech officially introduced Brent Pry as its new coach. Pry, the former Penn State defensive coordinator, replaces Justin Fuente. Virginia now joins Oklahoma as a Power Five team looking for a head coach. 

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