Bronco: ‘I have no interest in going back to Florida State’
All you need to know about how Bronco Mendenhall is feeling after flying to Florida State and not then playing because of one positive COVID-19 test in the FSU program can be summed up in his answer to a question about rescheduling the game.
“I have no interest in going back to Florida State,” Mendenhall told reporters on Monday. “That opportunity was there. It’s no longer there. I’m anxious to play Boston College and then Virginia Tech. And then hopefully we play well enough to be considered for postseason, and we go from there.”
That’s as close as you’re going to get to the preternaturally calm, measured Mendenhall dropping knowledge, dropping the mic, saying “Bronco out!” and walking off the stage.
Mendenhall is still clearly frustrated two days later – with Florida State, with the ACC.
“There’s a lot of work that could still be done regarding protocols and regarding ensuring that when you make a trip that you actually have a chance to play the game,” Mendenhall said. “I have expressed those concerns and ideas to the ACC as has Carla [UVA athletics director Carla Williams]. And we can do better is my sincere belief. I think that [FSU head coach Mike] Norvell absolutely wanted to play the game. I think he was hoping we would play the game. Unfortunately, policies and other things prevented us from making an unnecessary trip.”
Adding to Mendenhall’s frustrations is that he and the Virginia program have gone above and beyond in developing and executing a strategy to limit exposure to COVID-19 both for player safety and for schedule integrity.
The work internally is what he can control; what he hasn’t been able to control is having two games (Virginia Tech and Louisville) postponed to later dates because of issues in their programs, and now this latest issue involving Florida State, which can only be classified as a debacle, considering that Virginia had to fly down to Tallahassee on Friday night not knowing that FSU was still awaiting its last pregame COVID-19 testing results.
“We waited until after 6 p.m. on Friday to ensure all of our results were back and all were negative. And it doesn’t seem like too much to ask for anyone that’s playing in college football to have their test in and reported negative before the opponent gets on the airplane to leave,” Mendenhall said.
His players, he said, took it about as well as you’d expect, and the two players that UVA made available to the media to talk on Monday – senior linebacker Zane Zandier and senior offensive lineman Chris Glaser – echoed him on that.
“Disappointing, I think. Our biggest thing was the fact that we got all the way down there, and, you know, day of the game, it’s canceled,” Zandier said. “I think that was, just, I think we were all pretty shocked. You know, the fact we got on the plane, the fact that we got all the way down there with, we had our whole team ready to go. Yeah, just, the day of the game, it’s kind of a shock, it’s a little bit disappointing. But, um, you know, things are pretty crazy this year, and we can’t say we’re surprised by any means.”
“When we found out the game was canceled, we were kind of bummed out because we had that whole week of preparation, and then not being able to play, it sucks. It is what it is,” Glaser said.
“When you find out when you’re actually in the state of Florida that you can’t play the game, and now we have to find how we’re going get back home on time and all, that it’s definitely a surprise. Yeah, no real speculation that the game was going to be canceled or anything. We knew that we were going to be fine. We thought they were going to be as well. Turns out they weren’t. But you know, it just is what it is,” Glaser said.
It’s not Boston College’s fault, but the Eagles are going to be on the other side of these frustrations come Saturday.
“We’ve committed and sacrificed, our players, especially, and that’s where I have an issue, when policies don’t allow them to be cared for at the highest level,” Mendenhall said. “They want to play. That’s why they’ve been in their dorm rooms or in their apartments. That’s why they’re limiting their social interaction. That’s why they’re following protocols. That’s why they’ve been available for every game. Does not mean that we’re perfect. It doesn’t mean that we couldn’t have a slip up. But they’re more anxious to play the longer that we don’t play.”
Story by Chris Graham