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What Bronco Mendenhall said at his Virginia press conference

What did Bronco say about BYU?

UVA athletic director Craig Littlepage and Bronco Mendenhall at his introductory press conference, Dec. 7, 2015.
UVA athletic director Craig Littlepage and Bronco Mendenhall at his introductory press conference, Dec. 7, 2015.

The following is an unofficial transcription of Bronco Mendenhall's introductory press conference as head coach of Virginia football.

Opening statement - Craig Littlepage, UVa athletic director

We were able to find a coach who indeed fit the university of Virginia and was able to fulfill all the requirements we needed for a football coach. We had a pretty good idea what we were getting.

What he has done at Brigham Young University has been extraordinary. His program averaged 9 wins per year and went to bowl games in all 11 seasons. They achieved the 13th highest winning percentage. His players succeeded academically. BYU has ranked 7th nationally in Academic All-Americans in his tenure.

As the interview was taking place last week, we knew what Mendenhall had done. The second dimension of a search is to find out who that person is, the essence of the person. So our focus Monday was finding out what he was all about. He talked about successful leadership and developing the players outside of football, then connected it back to the football field. It became increasingly evident our new head coach was right in front of us.

From our standpoint that he is a remarkable coach and a remarkable man. What he talked about went beyond the things we checked off our list of what we wanted in a football coach.

These are the words I wrote down about 10 minutes after my interview with him: Integrity, humble, inquisitive, well-read, data-driven, intelligent, innovative, hard-working, purposeful, continual improvement and competitive.

These words tell an awful lot about the essence of who Bronco Mendenhall is.

Opening statement - Bronco Mendenhall

Began by introducing his family, saying his wife is fiercely independent and the reason he could make such a move from BYU. He also introduced his sons, media got a kick out of their names.

Coaching is nothing but teaching, just like being a parent. Where better to come than Virginia, with the value of education what it is. Being able to blend football, family and education, it made perfect sense for us. There are very few places I'd leave BYU for.

I don't think anyone (publicly) knew or had any idea I was interested in the job or was looking at it, which is a great accomplishment. I'm relishing in that a little bit.

It was clear after 11 years as a head coach, 13 total after two years as a defensive coordinator, that it was time.

(On Virginia legend George Welsh, who retired in 2000 after 19 years as the winningest coach in ACC history)

I'm not sure what this next chapter brings us. I inherited BYU from LaVell Edwards, I considered myself a steward of his program. I wanted him to be proud of me. That wasn't my primary motive, but I did want his approval. Not only on the field, but developing the players and the holistic approach to the program.

When I look at all the other sports and how well they do here, I don't think it's a valid argument to say it can't be done in football. I enjoy challenge, and after meeting with the team it became clear it's what the team wants. I think they are hungry for success.

I think I specialize in accountability, hard work and effort. I love players who give all their effort. I will help the players with their will. I think playing hard means going as hard as you can. That might be different than the level we're currently at.

But after seeing this team, I'm fiercely committed to improve the infrastructure of this program. A football building is imperative. A facility is a tangible form of announcing our presence and that we don't intend to take a back seat to anybody.

I'm blessed to have this opportunity and thankful for the trust that has been placed in me. I am not an entitlement-based person. I expect to earn whatever praise is given, I expect to be under constant scrutiny as we go, and can handle that when it happens.

I remain committed to uncompromised excellence. We will have fantastic students, fantastic people and great football players. I believe in and, not or. I want all of that, in the most fiercely efficient design that exists in college football.

We will work harder and more efficient than any other program in the country. I spent over 500 hours designing BYU's program to make it as efficient and successful as I could.

I expect my coaches to have a life. You won't find a cot in my office. But when I am there, I will be working as hard and efficient as possible.

I want to be a great dad, and a great husband and a great man of faith and a great man in our community, and a great football coach.

Media Q&A

(What have the past 70 hours been like for you?)

It's been really fun. We were in a hotel room last night, and my son Breaker said "Is this a dream?" It kind of feels like a dream. I announced to my team I was leaving, they weren't expecting it and that was really hard, that led to a press conference I wasn't planning on.

The best part of this trip was seeing the team. I have a lot better idea of what this team needs. I encouraged them to train as hard as they can during the break.

(When you were approached, how much research did you put into this opportunity?)

It took something special to get me out of Provo. I'm motivated by purpose and principle. There has to be more than just football to do that. I love challenge, opportunity, growth and continued progress, and I saw that chance here at an institution that embraces fantastic standards. I'm ready to work, which is what this job will require.

(Both you and Craig mentioned your study of organizations. Folks here are familiar with baskeball coach Tony Bennett's 5 pillars)

Talked a lot about organizational strategy.

Change has to be made here. Change is good. It will not only happen in the lives of the people of this program, but it will happen on the field as well.

(What do you see as the challenges here?)

Success can come when you replicate the past if the past was successful.

BYU is a very unique place, a standard that is unreal in terms of the academic standards, student athletes that won't use drugs, alcohol, or have premarital sex. I was told you can't do those things and win. I think it's the reason we won.

Who would give away a competitive advantage? But I think having high academic standards and football standards at Virginia will make us a better program.

(Question about his coaching staff)

Currently a work in progress. There have been some members added to my staff. Interestingly enough, I don't think this is going to be a long process. When you're very clear what your goals are, some want to be around it and some don't.

I have a select group of coaches wanting to do that. There could be a large number of coaches that come from BYU. That doesn't mean they all come from BYU. I'm not sure when those things will be made known.

(Recruiting, not losing in-state recruits, making recruiting better)

Bronco discussed blanketing the country and the pacific islands when he got the BYU job. People are people, standards are standards. I've already talked to some of our early commitments, and they sound like us. They didn't care what it's like in Utah, they wanted to know what I believe in and if I want what's best for them. I don't think this area of the country isn't a fraternity I can't break into, given time and consistency.

(Was coaching BYU in bowl a negotiation talking point?)

I would not have come without being able to coach my team in the bowl. Football is moving down a direction of entertainment and commercialization. Along the way, for a coach to have recruited and trained a team and then leave before the season is over isn't right. I want my boys to see me finishing the task. Who would I be if I didn't stay to the end with my current team? We get upset as coaches when players change commitments or want to leave the team. Yeah this is difficult, but the message is I'm going to be there to the end and finish the commitment I made to that team, and then I'll be here. From a foundational perspective and a moral perspective, that had to happen or I wouldn't be here.

(Littlepage and Bronco asked about new ACC coaches and the level of the conference)

Bronco: I serve on AFC board with Mark Richt, I've known him for a while, he's a great fit for Miami. I've had some experience with Virginia Tech's new coach, and also crossover with David Cutcliffe at Duke. This division and conference is trending in the right direction.

(When you inherited BYU they struggled, as Virginia has. Football wise, what is your system/beliefs/philosophy and how you turned it around and will you bring that here?)

BYU had three losing season prior to me being named head coach. I had never been a head coach before, which was an advantage because I wasn't set in my ways. We did a very simple study. I was just looking for what the key predictors were for success in college football and at BYU. I wanted predictors to success.

I knew it was going to take 10 wins per year and top-25 rankings to live up to expectations, I wanted to know what numbers predicted that. We went through all this data.

The number one predictor was how many points you score. There's all this media with time and space to fill who will analyze all other stuff. But that's what it comes down to.

What's the next best predictor? Points you give up.

We added a third, turnover margin. Plus-one is a big thing.

We found an exact number that if we scored or didn't give up or had the right turnover margin, we would win 85% of our games -- 10 per year.

We designed schemes and strategies to give our players the best chance to hit those predictors and succeed. Those numbers might not look exactly the same here, but those are the pillars.

(Offseason trips to Duke and Northwestern)

We already had some crossover with Stanford already. We worked really hard at BYU to succeed at football and academics. So we wanted to learn from similar programs, and that list is really small. That might be offensive to some, but that's how it is. Cutcliffe and Pat Fitzgerald sit next to me at AFC meetings, so we got into a conversation about it. The thought that you can't be academically successful and physically tough on the field, that's an and. I want both.

(There have been a lot of empty seats in the stadium. How do you energize the fanbase?)

Communication is first. How do you support something if you don't know what's going on? I hope fans understand what we're trying to do and why. I think it's about 50/50. About half the people will come because of what we do and why we're doing it. The other half will come because of results on the field.

Win at home. Then win in your state. Then in your division, then in your conference. It starts with winning in our own classrooms and practice fields, then at our home stadium.

When our players buy in, the stories of what our players our doing will permeate and people will buy in. The players will determine the speed at which this happens.

I had maliciously obedient players my first years at BYU. We went 6-6 my first year, but the players saw what was happening with the program and the second year we exploded.

I want the community to have another sport here that they can't wait to come see, that they wouldn't think about missing.

(You have an escalating intensity when you talk about your values. What was the feedback you got from the team?)

I see it in this room, some of you are bought in and can't wait and others of you are skeptical. That's normal. I will outlast you.

I started nice with my team and read their body language. Then, my message was: train and be ready.

(Facilities, was that a factor?)

No, but it is now. I'm committed to building that. It's not necessary to win, I'll be working like crazy to win. But it's a sign that we are serious to build a football building, and that's one of my takeaways from today.

(You said you knew what the team needed.)

Accountability, discipline. That's where we're starting.

I'll run our defense here. I find when I train the defense, I find out about who wants to be accountable and disciplined.


I don't know what the waves are like here, but I'm closer than in Utah. I love solitude and the renewal it gives me. The waves do that for me. I'll found out what that's like here shortly. I ride a Harley, the chrome and asphalt and the noise and I'm alone and nobody can bother me. That's for renewal.

(ACC schedule etc., being able to compete in a conference race)

Bronco talked about BYU's current and upcoming difficult schedules. I had a huge hand in our athletic director in designing that, I like challenge. It does appeal to me at some level that when you're done, you know where you finished. It had some effect, but it wasn't primary at all.

(What are your plans for offense and the staff?)

I want whatever system scores enough points to win. We have a system at BYU based on our players we have, and it always changes. We had Taysom Hill and that system lasted for three quarters, now we have the freshman of the year who is a pocket passer.

I love innovation and flexibility, I like what maximizes the resources of the program. I can't tell you exactly what that's going to look like. The basics are a 50/50 run-pass ratio makes you hard to defend, but from there it depends on our personnel and what will make us successful.

At BYU we produced both some of the top passers and the top runners in school history.

(Story behind your name?)

There is a story. My mom was fiercely opposed, she wanted to name me George. To her chagrin, my dad named me. His background was stock and sheep, horses, stuff like that. I was raised training and teaching 12-15 colts per year. I was in spurs from fifth grade on, it taught me a great work ethic.

I've been challenged on that name quite a bit growing up. At some point in your life you have to take a stand on who you are, I've found the name helped me do that early and often.

(To Littlepage - why a defensive coach?)

When you look at character and values, it's all about fit. We have a model for leaders in our department and it's all about fit and if they understand the institution, leverage the assets of the institution to achieve success. What we saw on paper before the interview and what we heard in the interview made it clear he was the fit.

(What concerns do you have moving your family outside of Utah and the LDS community?)

I hope our family is received well, but I don't think that's a passive thing. I think we can play a role in that. Holly and I's message to our boys is not to be passive and find out how we're treated. We want to embrace the community and contribute to it. Contribute to the class, reach out to friends. It will take time and nurturing, but we love and care about education, and we love well-roundedness.

In relation to faith, at some point in life, you choose what you believe. Not what your parents/ancestors believe. Sometimes you can be surrounded by too much of one entity and you become complacent. My boys can discover who they are independent of a culture, I expect some tears along the way, but our family unit is still the same. Our home is still our home, we'll overcome anything together.

(How will you balance building the staff here and winning your bowl game at BYU? Recruiting etc. You might not get that 1.5 hours of renewal each day.)

I'll get the 1.5 hours. That's not negotiable. That's how I make sure I'm the best for my team, my family. The organization is so efficient that I can do that. We play our game in 13 days. Will 13 days be a dealbreaker for any recruit? If it is, I don't want them. I can make phone calls at night after I coach my team at BYU. Any staff members who are passionate will come along, if not, I'll find someone else. On the 20th of December, I'll be single-minded for UVA.

(The press conference ended with Virginia media relations saying that if the staff comes together in a big way between now and BYU's bowl, he might be able to get Bronco on the phone for a quick interview. But other than that, UVA will not be fulfilling interview requests until after Dec. 19 to allow Bronco to coach BYU to his 100th win.)