Augusta Free Press

No spring game? UVA football to end spring with another practice

Hear the one about how UVA football coach Bronco Mendenhall decided not to have a spring game? Seriously?

Ohio State just had 100,000 at its spring game. Spring games are important. You don’t get 100,000 people to show up for … nothing.

Except that’s what spring games are: nothing. The quarterbacks wear red jerseys and are off-limits for hits, nobody else who gets hit is hit hard, for obvious reasons.

Spring games are a waste of time. Credit to Mendenhall for conceding that.

“The team has done everything that I’ve asked them to do, and they’ve done it at a really high level where we currently are in measuring our program,” Mendenhall told reporters on the ACC spring football conference call on Wednesday, by way of explaining that, no, he wasn’t punishing his team by taking away their spring game.

It was a good question. Mendenhall had made clear when he was hired in December that he would make sure his team earned its practice time, and followed through, requiring players to pass a rigorous conditioning test before being allowed to take the field in the spring.

Even Mendenhall expected his approach to lead to some player movement.

“Probably the biggest surprise of this transition for me is I was expecting more resistance, and I was expecting more attrition as we took over the program and changed culture and work capacity and different expectations,” Mendenhall said.

So when he presented his team with its options for ending the spring, with a game or with another work period, it was a surprise to him that the players wanted to go in the direction of another work period.

“The way I expressed it to the team is, our program will move farther ahead and faster with one more workday, so that’s what we plan to do,” Mendenhall said.

It won’t be the sexiest thing you’ve ever seen, to say the least.

If you’ve ever watched a football practice, congratulations. You’re also probably good at watching grass grow.

Spring games are only marginally more exciting: akin maybe to watching a guy with his butt crack sticking out taking endless swipes through your front yard on a riding mower.

The bigger question isn’t why UVA is passing up the chance to give fans a taste of things to come this fall by going the one-more-practice route.

It’s … there aren’t better things to do in Ohio than watch a stupid spring game?

Column by Chris Graham