Keeping Perspective

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Jed Williams

As former Pittsburgh Coach Walt Harris (can someone please put out an APB for him, by the way?) so wisely mused after shouldering a Cavalier whoopin’ in the 2003 Tire Bowl, “hindsight is 50-50.” Yoga Berra couldn’t have said it better if that AFLAC duck came sauntering through his barbershop.

Wahoos, we can’t change our football past, no matter how hard we try. Nor should we attempt to. But to dismiss it is equally dangerous (isn’t there some pithy axiom about “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”?). Anyway, here’s the upshot – as you read this column in mid December of 2007, you’re also contemplating dolling out holiday cash on a New Year’s bowl trip to watch the ACC Coach of the Year Al Groh lead his 85 charges, chief among them Chris Long , who is arguably the most dominant player in recent vintage to sport the orange and blue.

Should I have penned a “state of the program” piece one year ago, here’s how your eggnog would have tasted:

  • 5-7 record, the worst since Groh’s rookie year
  • 17-0 shutout loss at Virginia Tech in which UVa barely eclipsed 100 total yards
  • No bowl trip to ponder, instead displaced by a roaring fan debate over whether or not the rolling option year in Groh’s contract should be exercised (final answer: “negative ghost rider”)

“How about some more eggnog Cousin Eddie?” Didn’t think so.

It’s called perspective. As a transplant into the belly of the SEC football beast – Alabama – I’ve learned the importance of that one word above all others. It’s a word us Wahoos should cling to with all our collective might as football fortunes rise and fall faster than a Bobby Petrino mood swing.

The Groh Era hasn’t come up all roses, and there’s quite a ways to go to unpack consistent high-level performance. Will UVa ever get there? We’ll study that one in a minute. But as the old Virginia Slims commercials once reminded us, “you’ve come a long way baby.”

Indeed these Hoos have, in just one calendar year. Let’s take a refresher course.

I distinctly remember having the same conversation with several media members and