10 Things I Learned … 2008 Season

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The season is over. There are no more plays to break down. Instead, it is the full 2008 season that we will take a closer look at, a season that began painfully, had an uplifting middle, and then came crashing back to earth. So what did we learn from another ride on the UVa roller coaster?

1. I Was (Almost) Right. When you have been married as long as I have, you crave hearing those three simple words, “You were right.” Problem is, I do not hear them very often. Last time? 1997, I believe, give or take a year. So this time, I will just say it myself. I was right. About what? UVa’s 2008 record. Well, almost right.

In retrospect, it really was not all that hard to predict Virginia’s 2008 record. Going into the season, this team had .500 written all over it. The schedule screamed .500. The inexperience on the two lines screamed .500 (at best). The personnel turnover this past offseason screamed .500. The attempt to make a major shift in offensive philosophy (again) screamed .500. So for all those reasons and more, it was hard to see things going much better than .500 for this 2008 UVa squad and likewise, it was hard to see things going much worse.

Now I admit, Virginia did not finish the season at .500 (that’s the “almost”). But it was pretty easy to predict that happening, too: if you were to assume that once the season began, there would be a key injury or two – or a key player or two lost for another reason – foreseeing a 6-6 team become a 5-7 team was not hard to do. In fact, given all the early season challenges that faced this team, had the team managed to cross the finish line with a .500 regular season record (and a bowl win, even in a minor bowl game), I think I would be here arguing that this team overachieved. But this team could not quite pull off that one extra win that could have changed how the season ultimately was viewed. Instead, this team posted a 5-7 record, a record that was not all that hard to predict but still stings just a bit, particularly with the flat ending that fans will remember (though they will try desperately to forget).

On that note, keep in mind that I am talking about “this team,” not “this program” or “this staff” or “this head coach.” Each can