On Friday, Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall made an unscheduled appearance at a UVA Board of Visitors meeting, and let’s just say he had some pretty interesting comments.
“I believe we have 27 ACC-caliber football players on our roster today,” Mendenhall said via the Daily Progress.
Now this might sound strange — a head coach straight up admitting that he doesn’t have a full roster of conference-caliber players. But Mendenhall expanded further how roster building relates to recruiting, and UVA blog Streaking The Lawn sums it up well:
The current 81-man roster does not account for the outgoing senior class that included two NFL Draft picks and another first-team All-ACC performer. It also does not include any of the three incoming transfers with Big Ten backgrounds, nor does it include 17 members of the incoming freshman class — 10 of whom have a 247 Sports Composite rating of 84 or higher.
Once those players are accounted for, Mendenhall believes the number of ACC-caliber players will be in the mid-40s.
He also has this to say about scheduling:
“I want to play the worst power-five team that we can play,” Mendenhall said. “That’s what the ACC requires, you have to play one other power-five [team in nonconference play].”
Some might also take this a certain way, but to be completely honest, this is just smart when you’re a program like Virginia, IMO. Since 2008, the Cavaliers have played home-and-away games against USC, BYU, Oregon, UCLA, and Boise State along with traveling to TCU and hosting the likes of Penn State and Notre Dame. They won two (vs. BYU and PSU) of those games, and both by a narrow margin.
The Virginia fan base has been clamoring for a more manageable schedule in the games they have control over. UVA will head to Notre Dame and host Florida State in 2019, has Georgia and Clemson on the schedule in 2020, then Notre Dame and a trip to BYU slated for 2021. It’s not like there are no marquee matchups coming up for fans to get excited about.
Mendenhall’s blunt assessment might not be what fans want to hear, but it’s not the first time Cavaliers supporters have been confronted with the truth this spring. Back in May, Virginia’s new athletic director, Carla Williams, who came to Charlottesville from Georgia, outlined the need for more football staffing, facilities, and budget.
“It didn’t take very long for me to start to realize that we’ve got a structural problem in football,” Williams told David Teel of the Daily Press. “We are understaffed in some areas. Obviously we’ve got some facility issues in some areas. Our budget is not where it needs to be. All of those things need to change to have a consistently competitive football program.”
While the Cavaliers had unprecedented success in just about everything not named football under former AD Craig Littlepage, Williams’ no-nonsense approach to the shortcomings of the football program is a necessity.
Virginia’s appearance in the Military Bowl last season was their first post-season action since 2012, and it ended in a 49-7 blowout loss to Navy.
At the end of the day, Mendenhall is just being direct and truthful when saying all this. Wouldn’t fans like to have transparency from coaches in general anyway?