Virginia has hired Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott as its next football coach, the university announced on Friday. Elliott replaces Bronco Mendenhall, who resigned last week after six seasons leading the program. Elliott, 42, has been with Clemson since 2011 and won the Broyles Award in 2017 as the nation's top assistant coach.
"This is an awesome opportunity for the University of Virginia as we welcome coach Tony Elliott into the UVA football family," said Virginia athletic director Carla Williams in a statement. "Coach Elliott is a winner, in every sense of the word ... we aspire to elevate UVA football in a manner that is consistent with the university's core mission and purpose. Coach Elliott understands and embraces this amazing opportunity to do something really special at the University of Virginia."
Elliott's name has been connected with various head coaching openings in recent years, but the former Clemson wide receiver has been patient. By taking over at Virginia, he'll be stepping into a stable program with modest expectations that competes in the opposite division as Clemson within the ACC.
Of note, Virginia's Board of Visitors just rubber-stamped a $10.3 million transfer from the university endowment to the athletic department Friday for construction of a new football facility. The building is expected to cost $65 million and clear 160,000 square feet, a significant investment in the future of the program as the Hoos hand the reigns to the up-and-coming Elliott.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney must now replace both his coordinators after his longtime defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, left to become the head coach at Oklahoma. Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich also left for the same position at Miami, which would make this an unprecedented offseason of upheaval for the Tigers under Swinney's direction.
The Tigers could use a fresh start on offense, however, after ranking 95th nationally in total offense during the 2021 season. The unit's lackluster performance should make a split more tenable for both Elliott and Clemson.
Mendenhall led the Cavaliers to a 36-38 record in six seasons, including a 9-5 record and appearance in the 2019 Orange Bowl. Virginia went 6-6 in 2021 behind a strong season from quarterback Brennan Armstrong. The junior threw for 4,444 yards, 31 touchdowns and completed 65.3% of his passes.
Virginia is set to play in the Fenway Bowl against SMU on Dec. 29. Mendenhall will stick around to coach the bowl game before taking his time away.