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The top 7 priorities for the next Virginia football coach

brennan armstrong
Brennan Armstrong. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

If the folks in Sports Marketing had any savvy, Virginia would have gotten word out about the pending coaching announcement this morning at 9 with a leak to “Packer and Durham” so that hour on ACCN would have been UVA Football.

Instead, there was a lot of talk there about how bad Virginia Basketball is right now.

We’re reputed to be smart, but we’re not.


Our dead time between now and whenever we finally get the news is dwindling, but might as well fill it with something.

#1 Priority: Staff

The head coach is one guy, and typically doesn’t call plays for either side. The coordinators call plays, more importantly, set the scheme, recruit to it, game plan. The position coaches work with their guys. You have grad assistants, quality control, strength and conditioning.

All are important, in the long run, and the short.

#2: Brennan Armstrong

Does he stay, or does he go? Armstrong has put his paperwork in to get an eval on his NFL Draft stock, but that isn’t the only threat here. The advantage the new coach has to keep BA in Charlottesville is keeping the band together as much as possible – in terms of on-field personnel and scheme.

If the new OC brings a different scheme and guys around BA start leaving, he might as well do the same, either head off to the NFL, even if he’s told he’ll be a late-round pick, or follow Robert Anae or Jason Beck to wherever they’re headed next.

The next coach has a chance, if the core of the offense stays together, and improvements are made on defense and special teams, to win eight or nine games next year, and what a great start to a new tenure that would be, right?

If BA is out, it’s a rebuilding job, two wins, three wins, somewhere in that range, and the new coach starts where Bronco Mendenhall did, and we saw how that just ended.

#3: Re-recruit the Class of 2022

The Class of 2022 signs a week from today. History suggests half of the kids who do eventually sign will still move on after a year or two, but the guys who stay will be key contributors as fourth- and fifth-years in 2026 and 2027.

More short-term, you need to re-recruit the leftovers from the Mendenhall regime, starting with Armstrong, but really, from there on down.

We’ve already seen some key guys enter the transfer portal – Olu Oluwatimi, a Rimington Trophy finalist; Bobby Haskins; Noah Taylor.

Get those guys back, and keep as many of the rest from leaving as possible.

#4: Work the hell out of the transfer portal

Assuming you get Armstrong to stay, he’s around for a year at best. Jay Woolfolk was the QB-in-waiting, but depth will be an issue if Jacob Rodriguez and Ira Armstead stay in the portal. Maybe find a guy in the portal to compete with Woolfolk for the QB2 spot, to set up a battle for QB1 in the spring of 2023.

A bigger priority will be retooling the defense. Mendenhall leaves behind a roster on that side of the ball that is suited to play the 3-3-5, which wasn’t working. There’s a big-time immediate need for linemen and ‘backers who can plug and play right away.

#5: Build ties with high school coaches in Virginia

I wrote last week about how poorly the Mendenhall staff did in recruiting Virginia – landing just two players total from the Rivals Top 10 in the state in the last six classes, getting just 9.2 percent of the total snaps on offense, defense and special teams in 2021 from in-state recruits.

Gotta make this a priority.

#6: Engage the donors

Mendenhall never did get the backing of the monied assholes, and their butthurt was manifest in their lack of support for facilities upgrades.

As stupid as it is that we need a $65 million building for kids to lift weights and have chef-prepared smoothies to take home, apparently today’s coddled athletes need to be told that they’re special in that way.

The next coach will have to kiss donor ass to get the ground breaking on our Shangri-La.

#7: Energize the fan base

Mendenhall, god love him, doesn’t get you fired up about much of anything. His pressers are more like Q&A’s with a philosophy professor.

That’s not the root of the reason why we couldn’t get 50,000 people into a home game this year, but it wouldn’t hurt to give the people in Sports Marketing, who are obviously not only understaffed, but undertalented, something to work with.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press