Hoo Preview ’09: Head Or Heart For Hoos?

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Entering Al Groh’s ninth season, this season’s team is hard to peg in terms of potential.

My cynical brain foretells 5-7. My bleeding heart yearns for 9-3. My visceral (and rotund) gut murmurs 7-5. Headaches, tummy aches and heartache … Tylenol, Tums and tequila – such is the scrambled existence of the Wahoo Football fan during Al Groh’s Space Mountain escapade, now on its ninth ride.

Over these many years, each of which has felt like a decade in itself, I’ve learned that fleshing out a Groh-led UVa squad is next-to-impossible. Since 2002, no ACC program has been mystery-wrapped-in-a-riddle-inside-an-enigma harder to peg than the boys from Hooville.

Lean on your left-brained logic too much, and your temple is certain to throb. Bend an ear to the murmur in your gut and indigestion, with the occasional rumble of ecstasy, is likely to follow. Some exhibits:

  • 2002: Virginia had no business – NONE – winning 9 games and embarrassing West Virginia in the Tire Bowl. My frontal lobe said there’s no way they get more than five. My heart hoped for seven. The result: a precocious band of teenagers darn near won the entire league.
  • 2003: The Hoos are “hunters” no more, returning a spate of talent and experience, including ACC Player of the Year Matt Schaub. My brain sends off waves of grandeur – nine wins, maybe more … and a big bowl to boot. My gut tells me the team isn’t quite ready for the show. Plus the schedule is murder. The result: a pedestrian 8-5 encore with several bitter road losses.
  • 2004: Groh’s ultimate woulda-coulda-shoulda season. A team loaded with weapons, even more experience and seemingly a friendlier schedule. My head screamed “ACC TITLE!” My gut wondered if this was yet an elite program, and until proven, could I trust it to be so? The result: the most disheartening 8-4 campaign you’ll ever witness.
  • 2007: The
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