The idea behind that somewhat controversial countdown clock was simple: X days until we know whether we had a successful season, in which case, good, or we had a bad season but could look forward to a better day ahead with a better coach, in which case, good. Either way, things were going to look up.
So much for theories. Leave it to this administration to screw up a good thing. I suppose they had their reasons and the chances are good that they go beyond the public blather they put out last week. Maybe it's money, in which case they're being cheap. Or maybe Craig Littlepage just doesn't have the guts to fire someone he personally likes, until circumstances force him over the edge.** Regardless of the reason, it makes all this talk about competing for ACC championships just that - empty talk.
A few people theorized that the reason I was asked to take down the old site banner for "copyright reasons" (despite the fact that the picture of Tony Bennett was from his time at Washington State and could not possibly have been owned by the University of Virginia) last year was because of the countdown clock. I'm not sure that's true, but I'm not sure it's false, either. Well, there's no clock anymore, and there's not going to be one, and in case the administration really is paying that close of attention to the goings-on at a tiny little 200-readers-a-day blog, here is the exact reason for that: I have less than zero faith anymore in their rational decision-making or the standards they claim to set for the football program. From where we sit now it's no stretch to imagine they'll let London bumble along and win four to six games for the next ten years.
We've all heard since we were four that actions speak louder than words, and the actions here say that:
-- it's OK to never beat Virginia Tech
-- it's OK to never beat North Carolina
-- it's OK to go 11-29 in conference play
-- it's OK to go bowling once every five years or so, and when you do,
-- it's OK to get your ass kicked
-- it's OK to win one road game in three years
Uncompromised Excellence my ass. The only thing uncompromised is the rotting stink of a losing atmosphere emanating from the McCue Center. That's coming through loud and clear. So is the message that a losing program is acceptable. Standards have sunk that low. Teams all around the country fire coaches every year when they don't perform; UVA is happy to keep the one they've got because he's a nice guy. So we're stuck, for at least one more year, with our offensive-line-neglecting, no-accountability-having, clock-management-fumblefucking, nice guy for a head coach.
Amazingly, there are still apologists for this performance. A lot of them suit up in uniform on Saturdays, which is understandable considering London's charisma. You'd think if they wanted to play for and win for their head coach, they'd stop doing incredibly stupid shit like roughing the passer on the Hokies' last-chance drive, or watching the senior captain of the offensive line haul ass downfield on a pass play as if he were an eligible receiver. But then, the coach doesn't hold them accountable for that kind of thing, and in the game they stay, so why should they ever change?
As for the people in the stands making excuses, you have to admire their creativity. First it was that the coordinators were all wrong, so they changed them. Then it was that the team was just too young. Then it was the fact that we just didn't have an experienced quarterback. And through it all, the schedule is too hard. So I guess if we have a senior quarterback leading a team full of seniors, coached by really awesome coordinators, and playing Tulane, Troy, and VMI, we'll win football games. And in every other year, when
Now that we've made this very stupid decision, we're basically stuck with it. I know nobody's all that happy with Steve Fairchild. Lord knows I was furious at the decision to keep running smack into the middle of the line against VT when it was obvious our offensive line was piteously overmatched. Hell, I'm sure most people within hearing distance could tell. But if you fire him now, who do you get? The rest of the country assumed London would be fired this year, and you can bet they assume he'll be fired next year. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to sign on for what they figure is a one-year gig with a dead-man-walking for a head coach, unless that person is thoroughly unqualified, destitute and begging, or both. And it's certainly not a good idea to put our quarterbacks through the old three-OCs-in-three-years trick, which is quite likely should Fairchild be shown the door. The administration has made the decision to ride or die with London - they need to realize that extends to the staff too.
So, next year. We'll probably go through this whole thing again. This team is talented enough to win a few games. There are eight Hoos on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd-team all-ACC groupings. That's more than all but two ACC teams. (And we go 3-5.) They're likely going to beat Cuse and W&M, and there are about seven games on the schedule where the opponent is at least beatable enough that the team ought to be able to pull a few wins out of that bunch. 6-6 is an awfully likely outcome. Bowl game in sunny Shreveport. And with the shit-for-standards set by this administration, can you say with absolute certainty that that won't earn London an extension? For the sake of the future, this team needs to either win 10 games or lose 10 games, and nothing in between. And if you think London is capable of winning 10, look up - I can see the word "gullible" written on your ceiling from here.
**I will offer one possibility that - sort of - exonerates the administration. Rumors abound that Craig Littlepage will be retiring soon, possibly as soon as this summer. It's somewhat plausible that Littlepage is thinking in the very long term, and allowing his successor (who had damn well better not be Jon Oliver) to hire a head coach. If Littlepage hires a coach this winter and then does retire this summer, that coach will have the specter of working for a boss who didn't hire him - which is usually a difficult situation that doesn't work for more than a couple years. And of course, Littlepage can't just come out and say all this. If you held a gun to my head, I'd grudgingly admit that I prefer to have a new coach and new AD all at once for the long haul, than to have a new AD come in and be more or less held hostage for a few years with a coach he may or may not want to keep. But this situation basically depends on Littlepage retiring this summer. If he doesn't, the whole program is going to be one big ball of dysfunction for years to come.
With the football season over, it's about time to transition this thing to Monday postings. But I'm probably not going to be 100% strict about it. What I will do is make sure there's a nice, long column to go up on Monday mornings. But the possibility exists that things will happen midweek, too. For example, I fully intend to at least finish writing about the recruiting class of 2015, and I want to write some basketball game previews too, this week especially since there are two pretty big games. The "new era" of FOV isn't defined in stone yet, but it's going to start happening more or less this week.