ACC Football Teleconference: UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall talks Ohio U.
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Hi. It’s good to be with you. Anxious to play football again. I appreciate our athletic director and our administration going to lengths to ensure that the resources and help for Charlottesville and this community can be available and that we can still also play football. Their work to find a venue and help us to continue to grow and advance our program as well as manage the situation is really appreciated and welcomed.
With that, I’ll take any questions anyone might have.
Q. Is there a chapter in your policy manual for moving a venue?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: It’s to be added. There was not one, and now there is one. We’re making history with that.
Q. What was your level of involvement in terms of the process of finding a new venue? How involved, how in the loop were you, and how did that go down from your point of view?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Yeah, I was not involved in finding a venue other than in principle. There were a number of options from 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. Again, knowing that it was a home game, my preference was then to find a neutral site for both teams and a site, 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.
Q. And have you ever coached at Vanderbilt?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: I have not. No, I have never been there.
Q. Since this is such a unique situation, I’m wondering how this impacts game preparation.
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Yeah, pretty interesting, knowing that as of Monday night — I’m trying to just get my details correct here. On Monday night, I’m not certain that we knew or clearly didn’t know for sure if the game would be played. And so going into — we’re a Tuesday early morning practice team, and so we practiced Tuesday. Basically I didn’t share anything with the team or the staff other than it was business as usual, but there was still some uncertainty in my mind whether we would be playing the game.
Fortunately after Tuesday morning’s practice, our administration had worked really diligently and quickly to where we knew we’d be playing somewhere at that point, and so it kind of put the rest of the preparation at ease from the coaches and the players. What hasn’t kind of been mentioned is our support staff in trying to find airplanes and hotels and travel, so we’ll be staying at two separate hotels because there wasn’t accommodations — knowing that we’re going to be leaving Thursday to get ahead of the storm, when it was projected to come, so 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.
Q. Is this then just going to be treated like a road game in terms of the things that you do leading up to it?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Yeah, exactly. And it would be similar to a road game — the closest example might be when you go off to play Hawai’i and you leave a day earlier than normal, because again, we’re leaving Thursday, and that would be similar to when you’re making that trip. Yeah, it would be just like a road game with an extra day to manage.
Q. Most programs have canceled their games. Was that an option, and why was it so important for you to play this game?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Yeah, certainly it was an option. I really want the young people on our team to succeed. I want them to continue to grow and develop. I feel a sense of urgency and a responsibility under my stewardship to do everything possible to give them that chance, and the easy thing would be just to cancel. But that’s really not why I came to Virginia, and it’s not why these kids have chosen to come play here. We want to grow, we want to play, we want to be developed, and there was an option, and that’s all I was asking for. If there was an option, let’s explore it.
Again, every minute to me matters, every game matters, and so that was the reference point I was acting from.
Q. Playing in a bowl being a goal of sorts, or more than of sorts, was that a consideration, that you want to get to seven wins, and cancelling —
BRONCO MENDENHALL: Yeah, sure. If the game — if there was no option to play, then it would have been what possibly can we do, is anyone available to play on our bye week, again, not only do we want to grow and improve, part of the way you do that is to keep playing when the season is over. Every one of those practices counts, and when you do that two years in a row, that obviously doubles the volume you would have had if you had just done it once. Yeah, there’s a clear master plan and methodology to what we’re doing, and every game does matter, not only in the growth of the team but qualifying for more growth of the team by number of successful outings.
Q. What will your preparations look like when you get to Nashville? You mentioned the separate hotels. Will you walk through at the stadium, or do you have to go elsewhere?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: So our plan is to — we’ll practice here Thursday normally, so there will be no interruption or no change to anything we’re doing from a normal road game through Thursday, with the exception that Friday we normally have an extensive walk-through because we have our own roster to work against and number of bodies. That walk-through will now happen Friday in Nashville, but it’ll be just with the travel party, which means kind of servicing yourselves, so that walk-through won’t be nearly as effective as it normally would be prior to leaving for an away game. So that would be the sacrifice of leaving on Thursday is that one extra walk-through period/run-through period, which we think is really valuable, but we’ll just have to make the best of it there.
Q. Will you do that in like a hotel ballroom, or will you do that at the stadium?
BRONCO MENDENHALL: We’ll do both. So we have both of those planned as normal routines when we get to a road game site. The Friday version of the walk-through will be at their stadium, and then obviously the ballroom. Both things serve for the walk-through as normal. The walk-through that we’re talking about that we’ll be missing here, that will be in the stadium there.