Worn Out And Weary

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Al Groh

With 8:29 remaining in Virginia’s 42-13 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday, streams of fans trickled to the exits. The ritualistic march of Virginia’s 2009 season. Few looked distraught. Most faces, in fact, held a look of acceptance. Maybe a little fatigued, but not troubled or disturbed.

Just worn out. Worn out from a long journey fraught with wrong turns. Worn out from petulant detours. Worn out from a journey devoid of a promising destination.

Just plain ol’ worn out.

And really, that’s the state of the Virginia program on this 28th day of November in the year two thousand and nine.


It was etched on fans’ faces. It clung to the shoulders of UVa seniors as they sat encircled by reporters, the burden of never beating Tech a weight to forever bear. It lingered in the eyes of a coach’s family, who soaked in a few extra moments in the media room after the game. It quivered with a single yellow rose in the grip of Anne Groh’s hand.

And it snuggly rested with a thumb twisting a wedding band on the left hand of Al Groh, answering postgame questions for the final time at Virginia. It hung in the air after Groh answered the inevitable ‘is this your last game’ question with the poem “The Guy in the Glass.”

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Not happy certainly, but accepting. Accepting of the end of what became a disappointing nine-year journey. Accepting of the excitement that came with hiring the head coach of the New York Jets. Accepting of the momentum built through Tire Bowl wins and NFL Draft picks. Accepting of the slow slide after a fateful night in Tallahassee or an indescribable afternoon in Chapel Hill or a final bowl hoorah in the Music City. Accepting of a year too long.

Accepting of a final day in the coaches’ suite. Accepting of a few more minutes for the grandchildren for a photo with Mikell Simpson . Accepting of a final question answered with a poem about self-acceptance.

So with that some will rejoice in the final game of an era and others will recoil