Why Bronco Mendenhall has the Virginia sideline filmed during games

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday July 14, 2017


Bronco Mendenhall looks for the small things to build on. After a 2-10 season, that’s where to look.

That includes how players react on the sideline or how they finish a drill. At ACC Media Days, Mendenhall reflected on his first losing season as a head coach and how he’s building from the bottom. It starts small.

“I believe in simple successes,” he said. “By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. Simple things like seeing our team warm up correctly, I would relish that and cherish it. When I see a player finish through the line as hard as he can go. We actually film our sideline, what I call our fourth side of the ball. If I saw our fourth side of the ball, in a game, react in a manner that looked authentic, genuine and supportive of what was happening for our team, those are all things I pass on to our team.

“Great things are built very simply, very methodically and really detail-oriented. It has yet to show in wins and losses, and I don’t know when that will happen, I’m certainly not going to let the small improvements that I see leading to that go without acknowledging those I crave, those simple successes, as do our players."

Mendenhall knew he had to rebuild a program — it was part of the draw. But 2-10 was a bit eye-opening. Mendenhall brought most of his staff over to UVA from BYU, so when he talks about what struggling means, he includes the effect it has on all of his staff and their families, not just himself or the players.

The 2017 season doesn’t project to be a major improvement in wins, but Mendenhall has a new experience to build on, now.

I do have to be brutal and honest. I’m not used to losing more than winning,” he said. “That was a reframing, so to speak. Quite frankly, if you’re not careful, you can be defined only by winning and losing. That was a unique challenge, to have that reframed after 11 years of winning football, to experience the other side. What impact does that really have on me?

“You wrestle with that and come out the other side to make sure you can do the best to lead the kids and show what grit, resolve and determination looks like. I’ve benefitted in that regard, in terms of self-discovery.”

The Cavaliers open the season with home games against William & Mary, Indiana and UConn.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.