Monday, December 1, 2008

Sending Groh a Message

UVA Athletic Director Craig Littlepage declined to extend Al Groh's contract another year (into 2012), after Groh's second losing season in three years. While this is certainly a welcome development, it is insufficient. Groh must go. And he should take his son (hired as offensive coordinator three years ago) with him.


Beyond Bibb's Store said...


There's been a debate simmering for years about the competing priorities of winning at football versus academic excellence at Virginia. Supply and demand being what they are, Virginia's always had trouble recruiting the most academically gifted athletic stars. In the 70's if you were smart and could play, you wanted to be at Penn State, Navy, or Notre Dame, where you could win, get TV time and national fame, and get a first rate education. If you didn't care about winning, you didn't have to settle for Virginia. Brown, Duke, and Yale had teams too. Virginia couldn't compete for the few bright players available because the kids wanted to win and have a shot at the NFL. This trend has not changed significantly since. We might get 10, or even 20, but it takes a heck of a lot more players than that to win conference or national championships.

I was there for most of the Bestwick years. In case anyone's too young to remember, his record at Virginia was 16-49-1, and included enough humiliating losses to keep Hokies snickering all year. If Dick could have found a way to lose to VCU, he'd have done it.

But here's the thing: we knew we would lose, and we were ok with it. Oh sure, we'd have liked to see a few winning scores. But we enjoyed fine Fall days in the largest oval bar in the South and instead took pride in our academic reputation. In those days the athletic foundation was still the VSAF, which we all knew stood for "Virginia Sucks at Football," (just as we knew that Clemson's IPTAY really stood for "It's Probation Time Again, Ya'll").

When did it all change? Remember the first night game at Scott Stadium? ESPN put up the lights so they could get Clemson on air--the Hoos took a horrible drubbing, along with the faithful few of us who suffered to the end in a bitterly cold rain. Soon followed stadium expansions, inane "naming" ceremonies, sky boxes, idiotic mascots (remember the "hoo"?) and the hustle for corporate giving at the expense of loyal long standing fans. The University sold her soul for a new stadium. Big donors don't get the pep band's lampoons? Ok, let's kill them and start a glorified high school marching band. Granny doesn't give enough to make us happy? Send her a letter and tell her that even though she's been giving faithfully for 40 years, if she doesn't up the ante this year, we'll throw her under the bus. No good seats for Granny! The hucksterism at JPJ is downright us your Harris Teeter card and we'll throw you a trinket... For God's sake, I'm in the advertising business and it still nauseates me. Somehow we've lost our way and decided the measure of our institution is our football record.

Long rant...guess I'd better get to a point. You're right. It's probably time for Groh to go. The blame's not all his. No coach can single-handedly change the culture, particularly if no one can agree on what that culture should be. You want to win the ACC championship? Are you prepared to hear about your "scholar" athletes in my news reports every week as they steal, cheat, and fight their way around Charlottesville? Winning begets embarrassments like the Vicks. My team lost Saturday, but at least they had the class not to juke and taunt after every play, and to me that's more important.

When Groh goes, the Board of Visitors, the alumni, and Mr. Littlepage will have a perfect opportunity to decide what this program will look like when it grows up. Welsh and Groh did what they could given the lackadaisical commitment on the part of all concerned. The angst will continue until we (and by we I mean the entire University commmunity, past, present, and future) decide for once and for all, what our priorities are and place sufficient effort to achieving that end. I'm not sure my goals are in line with most, and since my modest checkbook isn't driving the bus, I think I'll just watch from the country and chuckle at the latest drama from Hooville.


wahooligan said...

I rather agree with you John, many Cavalier fans can't make up their mind what they want... is its an ACC championship, or is it a respectable football program, that graduates scholar athletes and also has a decent winning record on the field... whether that field is a football field, basketball court, or any other athletic venue.

I have long said, that I don't think Virginia should aspire to be in the Top 10 Nationally, but a program that is around the Top 15-Top 20 and has respectful and responsible student-athletes is what we can and should aspire to be. I think we can achieve this with the type of student athletes that we look to recruit to The Univiersity.

My problem with our team this year is that we did not play up to our potential in games that we should have won, i.e. Duke, Conneticut... and then we weren't able to close on some opportunities in games which we were in, i.e. Miami, Clemson, and VT... That I believe is a reflection on the coaching staff's ability to put a team on the field that plays and executes for 60 minutes.

I like you, don't give enough to influence the direction of the athletic department, and so I am thankful to have this spot to vent and hope that next season brings a better outcome in Charlottesville.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Thanks for chiming in boys. Gonna be a difficult time for us....

Mudge said...

John S - really enjoyed your well-written "rant". If the quality of your writing, as well as that of CW and other UVa grads who contribute here are any indicators, I have to assess that UVa has thus far chosen the proper priority and has done so exceedingly well. And anyone who detests dancing in the end zone gets an automatic "A" in my gradebook irrespective of his or her intellect.

wahooligan said...

I don't mind a little dancing in the endzone every now and again, shows a little emotion, something that our current football coach seems incapable or unwilling to share on the sidelines.

Mudge said...

Emotion is fine. Celebration is fine. But the look-at-me-the-individual-who-single-handedly wins-the-game attitude of the asses who do these dances detracts from the teamwork and it, in my opinion is what makes great teams just good teams and good teams really lousy teams. I especially detest it when the dancer is on a team that is behind. Just my two cents worth.

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