December 9, 2009
This past year, the two big money sports at Virginia (basketball and football) went through some tough times. Both finished their 2009 schedules with disappointing records, and both saw coaching changes. Dave Leitao resigned and Tony Bennett stepped in for basketball, and Al Groh was dismissed as head coach of the football team while his former assistant Mike London was hired to replace him just over a week later.
Three of those coaches were Craig Littlepage hires, Al Groh was the odd man out. However, though Leitao may be viewed as a bad hire it may be Littlepage's only or few mistakes since taking over the athletics department.
Overall, I just cannot see why UVa fans are so upset with Craig Littlepage. Last season was one of the most successful in the school's athletic history. 20 of the 25 athletic programs at Virginia were in NCAA post season play, UVa also had six total ACC championships - the most out of any member of the conference last year. Virginia finished in the top ten of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Directors Cup. This season proves to be just as successful so far. On December 3rd, the NACDA released it's fall standings for the Directors Cup and Virginia is ranked number one by a fairly large margin.
During the Spring is where most of Littlepage's recent success has taken place. Last season, Virginia Baseball wins the ACC championship and reaches the College World Series for the first time in school history. Their coach is Brian O'Connor, a Littlepage hire. Virginia Tennis also won an ACC championship. Dominic Inglot and Michael Shabaz win the NCAA Doubles title, the first ACC duo in history to win that championship. Their coach is Brian Boland, a Littlepage hire. Virginia women's golf finishes eighth in the NCAA Championships their best finish in program history. Their coach is Kim Lewellen, a Littlepage hire. Men's lacrosse made it to their second final four in as many years. Their coach is Dom Starsia, not a Littlepage hire - but if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
I know it sounds as though I'm Littlepage's number one fan, but the numbers and championships don't lie. The Virginia athletics department is one of the best in the nation, and there is no way Littlepage sees the door if the athletic department stays as successful as it is. I understand that basketball and football aren't winning consistently yet, but Bennett's work still has to be proven. Everyone knew Groh would go, and he went. No one should pass judgment on London yet.
If Cavalier fans are still upset with the way Virginia athletics is run, here's a score you'll enjoy.
Virginia Tech: 0