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Virginia coach has 'no interest in going back to Florida State'

Bronco Mendenhall becomes second coach to express frustration in wake of postponement after traveling to Tallahassee for game
Virginia Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall during 2019 ACC Championship
Posted at 12:25 AM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 00:25:53-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Count Bronco Mendenhall among the Atlantic Coast Conference football coaches who have no interest in making up a postponed game at Florida State.

The ACC announced that last Saturday's game between Virginia and the Seminoles had been postponed because of "positive tests, subsequent quarantining and contact tracing" among the Seminoles. It was the second consecutive weekend that a game involving Florida State had been postponed because of coronavirus concerns on the same day it was scheduled to be played.

During his Monday news conference with reporters, Virginia's coach said he has "no interest in going back to Florida State."

"That opportunity was there," Mendenhall said. "It's no longer there."

The Cavaliers flew to Tallahassee on Friday night expecting to play Saturday, but Florida State athletic director David Coburn said contact tracing, combined with opt-outs and injuries, left the Seminoles with only 44 available scholarship players.

A similar situation befell No. 4 Clemson, which had traveled to Tallahassee on the eve of a Nov. 21 game at FSU, only to learn hours before the scheduled kickoff that it had been postponed. In that instance, the Tigers traveled with a player who had tested positive but didn't learn of the results until they were already in Tallahassee.

That led Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to chastise FSU for the way it handled the situation. Swinney also said he believes the Seminoles forfeited the game and that FSU should have to either pay for Clemson's travel or play the game in South Carolina if it is rescheduled.

Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney argues call against Florida State Seminoles in 2019
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney discusses a call with an official during the first half against Florida State, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Clemson, S.C.

FSU coach Mike Norvell defended the school's medical personnel, who ultimately made the decision to postpone the game.

"Football coaches are not doctors," Norvell said last week. "Some of us might think that we are, but there's a reason why those advisers are able to make the decisions from the information that is provided."

Swinney retorted when asked about Norvell's remarks.

"I'm not really worried much about what they say down there in Tallahassee, that's for sure," he said. "I've been in this league for 18 years. I've been the head coach here 12, all right. They've had three head coaches in four years, so the decisions that they make, you know, I'm not going to worry about advice from Tallahassee."

Mendenhall didn't take aim at FSU, but he did say he hopes the ACC will adjust its policies to ensure games aren't scrapped after the visiting team has already traveled.

"There's a lot of work that can still be done regarding protocols and regarding ensuring that, when you make a trip, that you actually have a chance to play the game," Mendenhall said. "I've expressed those concerns and ideas to the ACC, as has (Virginia athletic director) Carla (Williams)."

Mendenhall said he believes Norvell wanted to play the game.

"I think he was hopeful to play the game," Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall said the Cavaliers waited until after 6 p.m. Friday to make sure all their test results were back.

"All were negative," he said.

Virginia Cavaliers and head coach Bronco Mendenhall run onto field before Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, 2019
Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall runs onto the field as wide receiver Terrell Jana (13) carries the American flag before the Orange Bowl against Florida, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Florida State's next game has also been nixed, as the ACC announced Sunday that Miami would travel to play Duke instead.

That leaves FSU with a pair of home games that have yet to be rescheduled and very little time to fit them in before the ACC title game.

Mendenhall said his team is moving on to its next scheduled game against Boston College. But he was candid in his belief that the ACC's policies are flawed.

"It doesn't seem like too much to ask for anyone that's playing in college football to have their tests in and reported negative before their opponent gets on an airplane to leave," Mendenhall said.