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Mendenhall taking 6 BYU assistants with him to Virginia

PROVO — One week before the BYU-Utah showdown in the Las Vegas Bowl, coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Saturday his new staff at Virginia.

And, as expected, that staff has a heavy BYU influence.

In addition to hiring former East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill as assistant head coach and to oversee the inside linebackers, Mendenhall is taking six of his Cougar assistants to Charlottesville — Robert Anae (who will be the Cavaliers' offensive coordinator), Mark Atuaia (running backs), Jason Beck (quarterbacks), Garett Tujague (offensive line), Nick Howell (secondary) and Kelly Poppinga (special teams coordinator and outside linebackers).

The lone holdover on Virginia’s new staff is wide receivers coach Marques Hagans.

The only BYU assistant coaches not going with Mendenhall to Virginia are receivers coach Guy Holliday, defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi and inside linebackers coach Paul Tidwell.

Those six BYU assistants going to Virginia have a combined 35 years of experience in BYU’s program.

“The staff I have assembled to coach our team at Virginia represents the qualities that will help us be successful and work towards achieving our goals,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “As a group, these coaches bring great personal diversity and backgrounds, are experienced teachers and they have a remarkable history of success during their careers. My selection principles were to find coaches who display fanatical effort, are fiercely competitive and compassionate teachers, are dynamic developers of young men and who possess amazing professional competence.”

Mendenhall and his six BYU assistants will coach the Cougars for the final time in the Las Vegas Bowl next Saturday against Utah.

“The opportunity to bring six of my current staff members from BYU is very important,” Mendenhall added. “It provides the continuity that is critical for this coaching transition and it demonstrates how vested these coaches are in the plan we have for the Virginia program. I look forward to announcing the final staff members in the near future and to working with this group of coaches after we complete the task at hand at BYU.”

McNeill, who was recently fired as head coach at East Carolina, coached previously with Anae at UNLV and Texas Tech. Anae was the offensive line coach at Texas Tech (2000-04), where McNeill coached defense.

BYU and East Carolina played in Provo on Oct. 10. The Cougars won, 45-38.

EMAIL: jeffc@deseretnews.com