Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the dreaded vote of confidence

"Vote of confidence" and "kiss of death" are synonyms in the crazy world of sports. Secure coaches don't need votes of confidence, they're implied. Votes of confidence often turn coaches into lame ducks because votes of no confidence make for even worse situations, and thus are never spoken publicly.

So why do I now feel like when Craig Littlepage says "Al Groh will be our head coach in 2009," he means it?

Loyal readers (yeah, both of you) may recall that when Peter Lalich was booted from the team, I opined that it was the beginning of the end for Groh and that the decision had already been made. In fact, I stand by that. Littlepage went on to say: "Coach Groh and his staff have done a good job bringing the team around over the past six weeks. Clearly, the team has responded." Six weeks ago....that would be four days after the Duke debacle, and two weeks after Littlepage overruled Groh's authority and sent Lalich packing. Many fans felt there was a "magic number" of wins that Groh would need to reach in order to keep his job; going by that theory, the magic number is apparently five, which is one short of a bowl. So I don't really buy that. What I do believe is that Groh's job, if not already gone, was in serious jeopardy following the Lalich debacle and even more so (if that's possible) after Duke. Groh, however, apparently has the magic touch in keeping the team from completely collapsing (and a pretty nice recruiting class to boot) and that's convinced Littlepage to keep him around at least another year.

So I believe Littlepage when he says Groh will coach the team next year. Believing Littlepage shouldn't be a yes or no proposition, but unfortunately, such is the nature of pronouncements like this. ADs and GMs all too frequently fire the coach anyway. But this means a couple things. One, Littlepage seems like a frequent guest at practices. I don't know how much Littlepage, or ADs in general, hang out at practice. I'll bet old-ass Bill Martin over at Michigan doesn't do it much. But it doesn't seem like an ideal situation for a coach's job security. Two, unless we go to a bowl next year, get ready for obsessive flight-tracking and all the other trappings of insanity that go with the words "coaching search."

1 comment:

PO13 said...

I know this is probably a conversation for a couple years down the road, but I wonder what kind of coach would be drawn to UVA and what kind of coach Littlepage would go after. Right now, I really can't see how it would be a major improvement over Groh. Groh has the NFL ties, the alumni status, the knowledge that he wouldn't leave Virginia for a better job, and a decent track record here. Sometimes I wish that he would surround himself with better assistants, (I would've loved to see a Bill Musgrave offense combinded with a Mike London defense). In any case, I doubt UVA could do much better, as hiring a young coach could lead to said coach leaving for a better job if successful or flaming out. In any case, I have a hard time seeing the next coach at UVA staying as long as Groh, whether it be a retread or a young coach.