Saturday, December 03, 2005

Prince leaves for Kansas State

A day after learning Virginia was going to lose one assistant coach, linebackers coach Danny Rocco to Liberty, the Cavaliers received word that offensive coordinator Ron Prince was the next to pack up and leave Charlottesville. Prince will take over for retiring coach Snyder for Kansas State University out in the Big XII. For Prince it will be difficult, following the winningest coach in the school history, and a rather disappointing end to this year's season. For Virginia it means that after their bowl game (presumably in San Francisco), the recruitment process will kick into full gear. Recruiting not just the best players but coaches as well.

The attrition might not end there. Defensive coordinator Al Golden has interviewed for the Temple Head coaching job and it appears that he too may be leaving the program come years end. While Virginia must be proud of the national recognition for their assistant's work, this is getting a little extreme. Golden knows the love perhaps more than anyone. Last year he was offered the role of defensive coordinator at Notre Dame by incoming head coach Charlie Weis. Golden turned it down, but the chance to be head coach seems to be an offer Golden will not refuse.

Candidates to fill these vacancies will not be easy. In a perfect world, Virginia would probably like to pursue former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Musgrave was offensive coordinator early in Al Groh's tenure at UVA and helped take Matt Schaub from an ineffective pocket passer to the ACC Offensive Player of the Year. That sort of development will be necessary for Christian Olsen or whoever takes the reigns at quarterback next season. The problem is Musgrave remains in the NFL, currently calling the plays just North in D.C. for the Washington Redskins. While he was kicked out of Jacksonville, he probably is not ready for a return trip to Charlottesville just yet. Defense will probably be even more difficult and will not become clearer until most of the hiring and firing of the offseason is complete.

I know that I have been critical of Ron Prince, and yes I think this defection is more a present than a hindrance. However, I do think losing three top assistants the same year is something that will not be easily overcome. Virginia's offense already appears primed for an overhaul with many of its key contributors graduating. Trying to redo a defense might make Virginia very transitional come next September. Nevertheless, this can be seen as a positive in several aspects. First being, we must be doing something right. These coaches are leaving to be HEAD coaches, this upward mobility means the nation likes what Virginia is producing out on the field. Secondly, since many pundits have grown weary of the same old same old, it'll be nice to get some new faces and new energy into the program. Novelty might be just want the Cavaliers need, and leave teams on their heels. It was Al Groh's second year after all, where a new offense surprised many and led to a 2nd place finish in the ACC and a 9-5 season. There is no reason that a similar effect cannot happen with a new regime, with new plays, new systems and a new mentality. It's not abandoning the old, it's reconstructing it. After a 6-5 regular season, a tune up is just what the doctor ordered.


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