Latter-day Saint Life

Coach Bronco Mendenhall is stepping back from college football after a prayer and a prompting

Virginia Cavaliers Head Coach and Latter-day Saint Bronco Mendenhall announcing his resignation from coaching via virtual press conference.
Screenshot from YouTube

In a move that shocked the college football coaching world, Latter-day Saint Bronco Mendenhall has announced he is resigning from his role as head coach of the University of Virginia football team.

In a 40-minute video press conference, Mendenhall made it clear that the decision was his alone, and that the athletic director and university president both asked him to stay. He also said that his staff, players, and his wife were all stunned, but Mendenhall noted several times that he did not take this decision lightly.

In an emotional start to the video, Mendenhall shared, “I would love to say there's been this buildup and a long amount of epiphanies and thought, but clearly this week there was a sense of clarity to me that I needed to step back from college football and reassess, renew, reframe and reinvent—with my wife as a partner—our future and the next chapter of our lives.”

He and his wife Holly will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary next March and will soon be empty-nesters as their youngest son Breaker leaves for a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January. Breaker was just 12 years old when they moved out to Virginia for his dad’s new coaching job, and just finished his true-freshman football season at Utah State.

“All we’ve known together is the rhythm of a football season,” he said of his family. “We know what that looks like really really well. ... Most importantly, I want to spend a lot of time with [my wife Holly] reconsidering ... the next thing we’re going to do together, what’s next for us.”

Mendenhall has been coaching for 31 years straight, both as a head coach and assistant. He called his time coaching at Virginia “one of the most amazing experiences of my life” and emphasized how much he loves his team.

In the conference, Mendenhall noted that he had a prompting on Sunday, November 28, that came after a prayer. He called it an “inquiry at the end of the season as to what is next and how best to help my players and this program, and our future—Holly and I and my boys—what’s next.” He also smiled and said that this type of inquiry for him isn’t just a one-time or one-Sunday thing, “It’s an every Sunday thing and a nightly thing and a morning thing. I just have a little more time [for contemplation] on Sundays because we don’t work around here.”

He said that after his prompting, he took time over the next hours and days to contemplate, but then took action steps in a different direction than the prompting. “Man, did that not feel good,” he said. So he returned to his initial thought on Wednesday and made his announcement to his staff and team late on Thursday.

When asked about the role his faith played in his decision, Mendenhall was honest and sincere. He said, “[My faith] is exactly where this started. I believe I have a Father in Heaven. I believe if I live and really try to connect, I can receive direction and promptings. Now, it takes courage to act on those in faith. Most every decision that’s been positive in my life has been when I’ve listened.”

Watch the full press conference in the player below:

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