Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Peter Lalich era is over before it really began. And for what?

Starting QB Lalich dismissed by Virginia

It's all there, and despite the occasional tabloidishness of Rivals, it's all true. Lalich's court date was today, having been rather conveniently (were he still on the team) bumped up from next Friday.

The official statement from Il Duce Littlepage:

"Peter Lalich is no longer a member of the University of Virginia football team. We have supported Peter, but believe today a point has been reached where it's best for all concerned that he no longer participate on the team. This is my decision and it has the support of head football coach Al Groh. We wish Peter the best in the future. We will have no further comment."

I call bullshit. I don't believe for a minute that this has the support of Al Groh. If Littlepage had said, "This is my decision and it has the support of head football coach Al Groh, who really likes his job and realizes that I have the power to change his employment status," then yes, I'd believe it. But - hell - I don't even believe 100% that this is Littlepage's decision. If it is, shame on him. If not, shame on whoever made the call, and more so for making Littlepage take the heat.

Because this is crap. And no, not just because we're losing the Quarterback Of The Future. Because Lalich is taking a fall for underage drinking, and then being honest about it. If he had just lied to the probation officer, we wouldn't be here. Am I suggesting that's what he should have done? No. That's what I'm suggesting that the UVA admin is suggesting he should have done. I realize the single sanction is controversial, but I didn't realize you could have it applied for following the honor code. Even if Lalich really is dumb enough to believe that it took an arrest to break his probation.

But you know what? There's something bigger afoot. The administration, whether it was the decision of Craig Littlepage, or John Casteen, or some other pointy-headed policy-making doughbag, just undermined the coach in a BIG way. BIG. Groh was doing everything in his power to minimize the effect of this on Peter Lalich, from playing him against Richmond AFTER the initial arrest, to avoiding use of the word "suspension" when he didn't play at UConn. You hire a football coach to coach his team and to put such players on hit as he sees fit. You endow him with the power to hand out millions of dollars worth of scholarships. Tens of millions. To make the personnel decisions for him is to show a lack of confidence in his ability to make those decisions himself. How soon til he's fired, then? In my opinion, his time is short. You don't undermine your coach like that, so publicly and so brashly, if you have full and complete confidence in his abilities.

I could probably go on. This is a stunning decision. I'll hold back, some, because there has got to be more to this that I - we - don't know, and never will. At least, there had damn well better be. If Will Barker can stay on the team, let alone at a school with a strict honor code, after stealing his beer, surely Lalich must have done something above and beyond breaking his probation that doesn't show up in police blotters.

So take a bow, Marc Verica. You're the quarterback, now and for the next two years unless Jameel Sewell returns.

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