Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Not So Fast My Friend!

So, as many of you might guess. I read about sports as much as I write about them. In Monday's Cav Daily, Walker Freer had some strong words for the football program after a last second victory over a team that didn't beat Temple last year. Today Chad Gallagher decided to beat a dead horse with HIS column located here.

If you want me to save you some reading, he basically likens Al Groh's recent disappointment to the abrupt turnaround in Pete Gillen's tenure as UVA basketball coach. I wonder if Mr. Gallagher has been drinking that Boston Red Sox kool aid. Now I understand for every single one of us it is hard to truly grasp our last basketball coach because it is important to note not ONE student currently here was here during those glory days of which he speaks. However, as a UVA fan who has that Duke game on tape and watched almost every Gillen game, I feel the need to dispel these atrocious allegations thrown upon Al.

My first point is not a very nice one but it is true. Pete was never loved. Yes, he was very much respected. He makes cute jokes. He never truly seemed to fit in Mr. Jefferson's University with his thick New England accent (John Adams ring a bell?). That doesn't mean he was a bad person, but Al Groh is an alum, he played on the very team he is coaching as a linebacker. In other words, Al had roots here and Pete did not, this made his firing much easier.

Two, players have developed under Groh, not Gillen. Pete Gillen had ONE (you heard me one) player go to the NBA. Al Groh had 7 go to the NFL in just one year. The MOST in UVA history. Elton Brown came in to UVA a....decent offensive lineman and left an All-American. The other Elton Brown came in as an overweight under-sized center who could not shoot free throws, and catch my drift.

Do not tell me Groh has not won a game of significance. The fact is you cannot compare this because there is no football playoff system. Granted the Continental Tire Bowl should never be our goal, but we did win. Pete Gillen could barely win in the NIT. An important difference....Groh's teams have stumbled early and improved late. Gillen's teams started quick out the gates and then fell flat on their face. Which is more frustrating?

Four, basketball has had a rich legacy. I grant you UVA has been with the exception of a few years here and there a football school, but that is just not fair. We have won only 2 ACC championships in football and one Orange Bowl appearance. George Welsh's memory is not that we won national titles with him as our football coach (cause we didn't), it's that he had 20 years of winning seasons (since when was 8-4 a losing season Chad?). Basketball features an NIT championship, two Final Fours and the greatest center in ACC history. Pete Gillen was brought in because Jeff Jones could not win in the NCAA tournament. His job was to win the big game and he couldn't. Al Groh was brought in because Welsh retired, and the program was slipping. His job was to remake the entire program. One man has already completed his task, one never did in almost twice the amount of time.

People want to come to Virginia in football, in basketball they can't wait to get out. Even being a member of the greatest conference in basketball history, a chance to take on Duke, UNC and Georgia Tech every year, players shy away from Virginia in basketball. We lose recruits to Virginia Tech (enough said). In football, we have extremely high academic credentials. We make no bones that this is an education first facility, and players still come. They take an extra year at Hargrave because they WANT to be here and NOT Virginia Tech. Groh is the greatest recruiter in UVA football history and has been in the top 25 recruiting classes EVERY year he has been here, Gillen saw 9 recruits leave in 7 years (and we're not talking 60 man rosters like football).

The fact is the Cavaliers are 2-0. You and I may not like how it's happened. We have every right to fear the ACC matchups in October and November. Nevertheless, Al Groh's squad is everything Pete Gillen's players were not: Tough, resilient and a huge focus on overpowering (not outscoring the other offense). When these things change, come talk to me. Until then, I strongly suggest you come OFF the window ledge, wear orange and cheer because your Cavalier football team is undefeated.


Post a Comment

<< Home