Emotional Mendenhall addresses decision to leave BYU

Ari Davis
Bronco Mendenhall and Tom Holmoe address the media after the university announced that Mendenhall will leave BYU to be the head coach at the University of Virgina. Mendenhall spent most of the press conference with his head down, wiping away tears.  (Ari Davis)

BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall and Athletic Director Tom Holmoe addressed the media hours after news broke that Mendenhall had accepted the head coaching position at the University of Virginia.

“This isn’t something that can be scripted, nor is life something that can be scripted,” an emotional Mendenhall told reporters at the news conference. “Who I am now has been shaped, molded and directed through BYU. I am a product of Brigham Young University and I’m fortunate and lucky to have been challenged and given the opportunities that I’ve been given here in a way that is not explainable.”

Mendenhall said that a desire for change, growth and development was at the heart of his and his family’s decision to accept the Virginia job.

“Virginia reminds me a lot of BYU when I was named the head coach here,” Mendenhall said. “I see tremendous chance for growth and opportunity. I like to build, I like challenge, I like growth, I like learning, and I see a fantastic challenge and opportunity with real and tangible results that can happen, and I’m passionate to help the student athletes, the players experience that. I would love to have (Virginia) see what it feels like to win, and win a lot. And get grades. And learn and grow as people.”

Mendenhall said he was first interviewed for the Virginia head job this past Monday, Nov. 30. He was then offered the position at noon Friday, and after three hours of deliberation, he announced to his players that he would be leaving.

“I think it’s just time,” Mendenhall said. “I’ve been so fortunate here. And we won so many games and there’s been so many challenges. Internally, it’s not only for myself but for my wife and my boys, it’s just time. I’m ready for a different and unique and fierce challenge and to help other players. And I think BYU can also benefit from change and I think that’s part of growth and progress and advancement, so I’m for that.”

Mendenhall also said that he has the opportunity of bringing in the staff he would like to Virginia, which could potentially include current BYU assistant coaches, although Mendenhall said he has yet to begin formulating a staff. He will finish out the Cougars’ 2015 season by coaching the team in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 19.

“I would love to finish with playing really good football one more time with BYU,” Mendenhall said.

Holmoe expressed his support of Mendenhall’s decision as well as confidence in the university’s ability to find a coach with leadership, expertise and an ability to bring the best out of the players.

“Someone that understands the academic requirements here, the honor code requirements here, the physical requirements of being on this team — that’s a great candidate for us,” Holmoe said.

Holmoe didn’t give any specific time frame for naming a replacement, but said “sooner than later is most important.”

Individuals must be an active member of the LDS Church in order to become a head coach of any sport at BYU, leading fans to speculate about the list of potential coaching candidates on social media. Current BYU offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Robert Anae, Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, Stanford defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach Lance Anderson, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, Utah co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick and Weber State head coach Jay Hill include some of the names being tossed around.

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