Coach Al Groh hopes the offense comes to life this season.
Change rarely occurs at breakneck pace, and it sure as heck doesn’t like to set its watch to our timetable. Don’t believe me? Just ask that Obama fellow.
The trusty adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day” exists for a reason. It wasn’t. Economies can take entire presidential terms to salvage and stimulate. And college football offenses usually require more than a few precious months to reinvent.
That brings us to Virginia, which finds itself in a precarious, and potentially incorrigible, spot as the summer heat wave teases the not-too-distant training camp ahead.
Al Groh doesn’t need to win. He MUST win. At least I’m operating under that assumption, the assumption that another subpar season for a coach with eight years of tenure and millions in cash will – and should – mean the issuing of walking papers.
Dear ol’ UVa needs to win just as urgently. After all, the University is less than a decade removed from pumping $86 million into massive stadium renovations, and has less than a year of separation from a re-seating policy that mandates unprecedented financial loyalty from its die-hards. Factor in the coaching staff salaries, punctuated by Groh, and the statement being screamed is as loud as a fluorescent billboard on the Vegas strip: Virginia wants to be a major player in college football.
This delicate marriage between coach and program, driven by raw desperation on both sides, triggered an offseason of volatile shake-up. Groh’s own son Mike is long gone, now toting clipboards for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. Four other staffers are similarly departed. More than half of Groh’s band of brothers – five of nine – are new to their posts (even though two, Ron Prince and Chad Wilt, previously served on his staffs at UVa). The message was crystal: do what it takes to get this thing right … now. If you’re unwilling, then you’re gone. If it doesn’t work, then sayonara. But give change a chance. It sure beats another 5-7 downer.
Enter Gregg Brandon, formerly the six-year head coach at Bowling Green. The...
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