By Jerry Ratcliffe
Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall took questions from media members on Monday.
Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall said on Monday that although he thought it was possible to have a season, it was very challenging and he believed a decision that definitely needed to be made at the end of the month.
Mendenhall discussed various topics during Monday’s video conference to update the media and fans after most of his soccer team returned for voluntary training last Sunday. Only two players chose not to return at this time, but Mendenhall did not identify them and did not rule them out to rejoin the team at some point.
Mendenhall’s opinion is synchronized with the opinion of ACC commissioner John Swofford and others as far as the cutoff for decisions on whether football will be played this fall.
“I think longer than the end of July will be very challenging in terms of preparation, especially if we talk about starting on time,” Mendenhall said. “After passing through July, I think it will be a real challenge. That’s the tentative time frame that is in my mind, knowing that I’m not the one who decides.
“But if I am asked to push it further, then it increases uncertainty, and I am not sure there was a significant change at that time.”
Swofford, who recently announced that this would be his last year as an ACC commissioner, said that the league would make a decision at the end of July whether the conference team would play the league schedule as planned by the Big 10 and Pac-12. Many predicted ACC would follow, but Swofford realized there were complications for the ACC team where the league had an agreement with the partner of Notre Dame, who could lose several matches on its schedule, in addition to the long-standing competition between four ACC schools and four SEC schools which would be difficult to resist.
“With the uncertainty of last July, in entering the mindset you need to be able to play the game, I think that would be more than what makes sense to ask,” Mendenhall said.
While ACC has not yet decided on the “conference only” game schedule, Mendenhall wants to see it happen. If that happens, Virginia will play six matches against Coastal Division opponents: Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Georgia Tech and Miami, in addition to two crossover matches vs. Atlantic Division teams: Louisville and Clemson.
“Yes, I support [conference games only] because in a situation like this you control what can be controlled, “Mendenhall said. “By playing the team only in our region, only at our conference, we have a better chance of having a standard protocol in terms of testing.”
The UVA coach said there might be a better opportunity (talking about campus football in general) to reduce cross-country trips and to increase the percentage of reducing concerns about the lack of consistency in testing and prevention, because the team can stick to themselves. conferences where there is a possibility of higher continuity in dealing with viruses.
“Anything that reduces travel, reduces air travel, or increases the closeness of play and makes our players safer, we have a better chance to control it in the conference than outside the conference,” Mendenhall said.
ACC formed a panel of medical experts in each of its 14 schools, alongside Notre Dame, to work on the best plan for managing virus risk. The panel meets regularly through video conferences to discuss findings and share information. John MacKnight, UVA team doctor from UVA Sports Medicine, is Cavaliers representative.
Asked whether he would rather play in the division and crossover than play a team in the region, Mendenhall said he preferred the first.
“I prefer to play division and crossover as closely as possible in terms of scheduling in our league,” Mendenhall said. “If for some reason we cannot get an architect properly, yes, I prefer regional games. If for some reason we are not able to get exactly what was designed at the conference, the next best option is to see who is the closest and then consider those options as maybe not the conference. But I prefer conference-first. “
Mendenhall said he thought the team had to play no less than eight matches and that things were lacking it would be difficult to ask the players to consider, especially those hoping to move to the NFL after this season, or those who were considering redshirting.
“That is the minimum limit I have internally based only on my own threshold, no one else,” Mendenhall said. “There’s more to it [eight] will be worthless. Less than that would be difficult to justify, knowing that I understood the income portion and I understood the athletics department’s need for resources. I understand its effect on other sports, so I want to help it at the highest level as well. “
One suggestion Mendenhall did not particularly care about was the formation of three regionalised pods consisting of five ACC teams each other than Notre Dame. The team will play each team in their pod twice, a kind of round-robin, creating an eight-game schedule.
Such a creation would solve the problem of Notre Dame in terms of playing eight matches. However, it still doesn’t discuss traditional competition matches at the end of the season between Georgia Tech-Georgia, Florida State-Florida, Clemson-South Carolina and Louisville-Kentucky, a game that some schools have insisted on playing.
“I’d rather not play each team twice,” Mendenhall said. “But this is not a time where we have many normal choices. If this regional pod proposal maintains the safest team and gives us the best chance to play soccer, then I will support it.
“This is a time for innovation and unique solutions to do the best we can under the circumstances and I think the proposal is appropriate. I prefer to play each team once, not twice. Once again, it is expanding regional games and I think it might put us at more risk than local games. “