December 2, 2009
We all saw Al Groh's firing coming. He'll even admit that he saw it too. Though, the parting of ways was about as pleasant as it could have been. Groh gets $4-plus million, and UVa doesn't have Groh around anymore. A win-win...I guess.
Change needed to come about. After so much success in the early years of the Groh-UVa marriage, Al and the boys stumbled to a low plateau of mediocrity in the ACC from 2006 through 2009 even though 2007 was a good season.
There was so much hope coming into the 2009 season of revamping a once putrid offense, and on paper the moves made sense. Replacing Mike Groh and hiring Gregg Brandon, a wizard of the spread offense to spark some scoring. The problem is that it did nothing even remotely close of improving the offense. You can place the blame for that situation on the hands of the coaches, the talent on the team, or Al Groh's bad luck. I'll vouch for the third, as bad luck seemed to pile on for Al Groh in his final year at UVa.
Here's a list what you can't do as a head coach in a year when you're viewed as on the "hot seat."
1. Lose to an in-state FCS school on opening day.
2. Follow that performance with an embarrasing loss to a ranked school.
3. Lose to Duke for the second straight year.
4. Lose a heart breaker to another mediocre ACC team (BC).
5. Lose to your arch-rival for the eighth time in nine tries in blowout fashion.
6. Recite a poem in your post-game press conference after your season finale
All of the above happened, and Groh was fired.
So now that it's all said and done, who's to come in here and clean this mess?
Mike London at Richmond, and Al Golden at Temple seem logical fits for the program. Both are very familiar with Virginia, and have coaching experience at the university already. Half of me thinks that this is way Craig Littlepage, Jon Oliver, and company will go. The other half thinks they would go with someone completely off the map, a Tony Bennett hire if you will.
Virginia should go young. Someone with the completely opposite image as Groh. A very energetic and enthusiastic coach which makes the average Virginia football fan want to suit up and play for him, and hammer home the fact he wants the Hokies to cry on the gridiron whenever they face the Hoos. Also, the coach should be offensive minded. Part of what makes college football so much fun is the high scoring anyway, and there hasn't been a lot of high scoring by the home team at Scott Stadium for the past few years.
These next few weeks anticipating the announcement of Groh's replacement will be interesting and will involve a lot of names being thrown around, but we must be patient. Another argument is brewing after the hire, if he is the right one or not.