Bronco Mendenhall’s image flickered onto a Zoom screen late Thursday for the last time as Virginia coach. It might as well have been the third act of a screenplay portraying this college football season.
In the performing arts, the third act is when all the loose ends are tied up. It brings a resolution. It’s when the story ends: fade to black, applause, drive home safely.
Mendenhall’s was quite a performance. He didn’t intend for it to be that way, but after this year, this season — even the last 96 hours — the Virginia coach was a compelling voice of reason in stepping down from his Cavaliers post.
Mendenhall suddenly resigned Thursday citing a need to “reassess, renew, reframe and reinvent, with my wife as a partner, our future and the next chapter of our lives.”
A few minutes prior, the 55-year-old coach stood up before his players and did the exact same thing Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly had done this week: quit. Except this time, it made perfect sense. It pulled at your heart strings.
After the turmoil and tumult of this season, Mendenhall nudged the sport back on its axis a bit. He added some common sense to the nonsensical.
The only drama was that the coach started having these thoughts on Sunday and acted on them on Thursday.
“I would love to say there’s been this buildup and a long amount of epiphanies and thought,” Mendenhall said. “But clearly this week there was a sense of clarity to me that I needed to step back from college football.”
Loose ends? There are plenty of them. An entire Virginia staff is now looking for jobs. Mendenhall himself doesn’t know what’s next. If the disparate minds that run the sport ever came together, Mendenhall would be perfect as the first commissioner of college football.