Virginia football players vote to end season with no bowl game

“I told our team I valued their feedback, and I wanted this to be their decision,” Mendenhall said in the statement. “Just as we met at ...

“I told our team I valued their feedback, and I wanted this to be their decision,” Mendenhall said in the statement. “Just as we met at the beginning of the year to make the choice to play, this was their choice to end the season at this time. I think it is appropriate for this team.”

Virginia (5-5, 4-5 ACC) last went to four consecutive bowl games from 2002 through ’05 and ends its season in ninth place out of 15 teams in the conference after winning the Coastal Division for the first time in 2019. The ACC scrapped the two-division alignment for this season because of the pandemic.

The final memory of this season for the Cavaliers will be a 33-15 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday night for the Commonwealth Cup. Virginia never recovered after permitting two long touchdowns within four minutes late in the second quarter at Lane Stadium.

The loss came after the Cavaliers had won four in a row to move above .500 for the first time since September. Virginia has lost 16 of the past 17 games in the in-state series and 20 of the past 22.

Among the lasting images from the finale included linebacker Charles Snowden’s long stare of disappointment as the final minutes wound down with his right leg immobilized on a mini-scooter. The senior captain had surgery several weeks ago for a fractured ankle suffered Nov. 21 during a 55-15 win against Abilene Christian.

Snowden, a projected NFL prospect who led the Cavaliers in sacks (six), as well as the rest of the seniors are eligible to come back next season after the NCAA instituted an exemption to all players because of the pandemic.

“They have all grown tremendously from the challenges put before them this year,” Mendenhall said. “But now is the time to return to families and loved ones. This team will always be special for how it handled competing during a pandemic. It is one more example of the amazing capacity and leadership of the young men that allow me to coach them every day.”

The Cavaliers were one of only 17 programs to play 10 games this season without a postponement or cancellation because of virus issues related to their locker room. What would have been an 11th game against Florida State on Nov. 28 was canceled after an outbreak within the Seminoles’ program.

Several days later Mendenhall said he had no interest in going back to Tallahassee, for a makeup game.

Players reported back to campus July 5 and since have been practicing or conducting other football-related activities for 23 straight weeks. At no point during that time did they have permission to leave the campus as a group for personal reasons, according to the athletic department.

The only in-person contact with immediate family over the regular season came during a condensed period after games.

“Unless you live it each day, it is impossible to understand the mental, emotional and physical sacrifice these young men have made since their return in July,” Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said. “I am proud of their commitment and their incredible maturity.”

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Newsrust: Virginia football players vote to end season with no bowl game
Virginia football players vote to end season with no bowl game
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