47 thoughts on “Groh’s Contract Capped at 2011”

  1. A solid move that will impact recruiting in a bad way. Next years rookies do not know who will be their coach when they graduate. Guys will go elsewhere.

  2. Yeah, I wouldn’t call this a positive development. Either extend it (bad idea) or cut him loose (excellent idea!). No doubt, the team will do relatively well next season and Littlepage will extend the option year like he did last year.

    Playing “wait and see” is a poor option.

  3. Does anyone know how the team has been doing in terms of academic performance since Groh took over?

  4. Groh will be 67 or 68 when the current contract expires. Do we really need to extend his contract another year, winning season or loosing season?
    It’s time for a younger coach. As a matter of fact it’s time for a whole new athletic department restructuring starting at the top (athletic director) and coming on down. Latio isn’t really setting the world on fire with his coaching of the basketball team either.

  5. Jim — trust me, academics matter. There are forces that want UVa to have more of a powerhouse-type program, but they’ve gained no traction against the issue of academic standards.

  6. But, but…but…wait! I thought Groh was the next messiah and was gonna turn it all around and make us part of the big leagues…therefore it was necessary to give George Welsh a little nudge out the door, because you know, he’d gone as far as he could go and we just couldn’t make it to the next level with an old school coach like that. We needed Mr. NY Giants to break through! What happened to that?

    I haven’t counted carefully, but I have the impression UVa graduated more NFL starters under Welsh than we have under Groh. I think that says something.

    I love watching the Cavs, even if it is the source of regular heartbreak, but until the VSAF and fans accept that we’re not going to be moving up to the “next level” until we’re really to go beyond tossing out meaningful academic standards and head for active recruiting of Thug Life ™, we probably won’t be headed for the next level. Tiki, Ronde, Aaron, Schaub…all smart guys who Welsh brought in. I dunno, just my $.02.

  7. We’ll have to see how the impact of academics on recruiting changes with John Blackburn’s retirement. He’s been the gatekeeper for twenty-some years, and many fans believe that if he’d relax standards a bit more, Al Groh could build the powerhouse they think they want to see.

  8. Stormy makes a good point — Blackburn has been the firewall. But I don’t think he could have done it for so long and in the face of such pressure if he didn’t implicitly or explicitly have institutional support for his hard line. You’re right that we’ll have to wait and see what changes his retirement brings.

  9. I think that change is waarrented but I’m not sure who would want to come here that could make the difference. Alabama had to 5 million to get a great coach. I guess I just don’t want it that bad. I have always thought as long as Beamer is it’s coach, VT will remain the dominate team in the state. This is before ODU brings it new football team out to the state’s talent rich tidewater area.

    Relish the Welsh years, they may be as good as it gets.

  10. The Welsh years weren’t THAT spectacular. UVA fits in quite nicely within the ACC where it will stay. Local “fans,” who always support the team with a lot of criticism, should listen to the conversation among the Fox football commentator last Sunday that said that NFL teams shouldn’t get rid of head coaches until they know who’s going to be the replacement.

  11. My sense is that the folks who want the Auburn-style big-time football program are generally not alums of UVa or employees. I think it’s the local fans, the ones who do not think of Tech as “their” team and who want bragging rights over Tech. In my experience, most people with a real commitment to the university as an academic enterprise are not interested in the compromises we’d have to make in order to complete regularly with Tech.

  12. @ Jim Duncan: good point. Sorry to have brought it up. Back to the pursuit of football wins. Oh, and apparently basketball, too.

  13. Isn’t it sort of appealing that UVA is so unpredictable? Isn’t it fun to root for a team that is frequently an underdog? I think we need to more fully appreciate the good feeling of seeing one’s lightly regarded team occasionally beat a higher ranked foe. When we’re the higher-ranked team being taken out by underachievers, all the joy will be gone.

  14. I don’t know, VOD — I see your point, but I’m not deriving any joy from watching the Virginia men’s bball team get shellacked by Minnesota right now. There’s another program headed for a coaching crisis, if you ask me.

  15. For what is worth there are reports that the BOV has approve an 6 million buyout of the Groh contract. Littlepage asked Groh to fire Mike Groh and others and according to the latest scuttlebutt Al refused. If the sources are true Groh and his $6 million should be headed to the exits any day now

    Personally I have zero knowledge but some of my UVa friends are thinking it’s true

  16. I work for the University (in the library system) where I attended as a student, but I feel I must make clear that in the following comment I speak for no one but myself:

    If the reason that the University hasn’t got the ultra-competitive football program that it can (financially) afford is that we do not procure extra-superb athletes who do not qualify as serious students, then I’m very, very proud of my University.

  17. Hear! Hear! BTW, what teams in the ACC have a great record this season? Why pick on the caliber of just one team?

  18. If UVA wants us to keep paying more for tickets, donating more to the school/athletics, than give me some athletes that we can stand behind. I really don’t care what their grades are. I am not paying money to watch them ace a test; I am paying money to watch UVA be competitive.

    On some level Al Groh is doing the best that he can do with the talent that he has. Sewell, the quarterback, wasn’t NCAA ineligible, he was UVA ineligible. UVa needs to lower their student-athlete standards. I know that sounds horrible, but how exciting would it be to have a legitimate football program in our backyard!

    I know it is all well and good to have an “all-around” student athlete, but let’s get real here. We are going to be batting at .500 from now until forever, unless the standards at UVa are changed.

  19. @ UVA Fan

    “We are going to be batting at .500 from now until forever, unless the standards at UVa are changed.”

    I know little of football, but I see no reason to doubt your claim. Our difference is more fundamental; when you ask “… how exciting would it be to have a legitimate football program in our backyard”, I reply that to me it would mean little or nothing, particularly compared to the benefits of a world-class academic institution in our backyard. The University is not an athletic team. That is not the purpose of a public school.
    I understand the desire for a hometown team of which citizens can be proud. But an institution of higher learning, especially one so well-regarded as the University, is not an appropriate vehicle for such ambitions.

  20. I keep hearing people say that one reason why UVA football isn’t fantastic is because they focus more on academics than other schools. Can anyone actually offer any proof of this? For example, do incoming football players have higher high school GPAs than, say, the VT football players, or Florida football players, or Texas? Are UVA football players required to maintain a higher GPA to stay in school and in the program than what is required by the NCAA, or the ACC, or whoever sets these rules? Do UVA football players have a higher GPA, as a whole, than the players at most other I-A programs? Do more of them make the Dean’s List? Are more of them enrolled in majors known to be difficult, such as engineering or computer science?

  21. I haven’t paid much attention to the activities of current student-athletes off the field but I knew a handful when I was an undergraduate and many more as a graduate instructor and graduate student. Almost every student-athlete I shared a course with or taught was working hard to make sure that they made use of their time at UVA to get a solid education. Many of them, in addition to their courses and team responsibilities volunteered through Madison House or through other programs at the Curry School for example.

    I’m not attempting to group all student-athletes into one group and paint them as saints. In my experience, though, there are a great many of them that we can and should be proud of. If we get off of the notion that a team we can be proud of or a team we can support means only a team that wins 10 or more games a year we’d all be better off.

  22. @Meg,

    Yes. The university (through John Blackburn and Admissions) has required higher numbers (GPA/SAT scores) for admission than NCAA requirements, which are presumably the baseline for admission for athletes to the other schools you mention. The university requires more of its students to remain eligible to be students than the NCAA requires of its athletes to be eligible. The university requires higher GPAs to be able to declare majors than the NCAA requires to be eligible to compete once a major is declared. The Honor System has claimed its share of athletes at UVA who would have been eligible to remain at other schools. These are all things Al Groh knew or should have known upon taking the job. Complaining about the academics is a false argument (and not one I’m hearing Groh make). Now if he was promised changes in admissions and academic standards upon taking the job, that’s a different story, but I’m not hearing him make those claims either.

  23. Meg, I don’t think you’re going to get the data you’re asking about — too sensitive, too private. I do know that in the past Admissions has declined to admit students who DO meet NCAA minimum standards, students who our coaches recruited and wanted (badly, in some cases), students who then accepted offers from other institutions. They were declined admission here because in the view of our admissions people, these were not students with a realistic chance of academic survival. It’s not that there’s a set cut-off in terms of GPA or SAT score at UVa that is higher than other schools; it’s that our admissions people make an assessment of how well a student is likely to do here. In my experience, admissions knows what they are doing.

    Once UVa students get here, they are subject to the NCAA standards for progress towards degree (something like maintaining a 1.8 GPA), but UVa does have a different threshhold for putting someone on academic suspension. I don’t know what the cut-off is, but it’s true that someone who meets the NCAA minimum could fail to meet UVa’s own definition of adequate progress towards degree or whatever they call it.

    A final issue is that at UVa, there are no gut majors–there are no majors where someone who is just not academically inclined or interested can hide out and coast along. The “easiest” majors at UVa are still hard for the kind of student-athlete that some fans (and coaches) wish we would get.

  24. No, I haven’t heard Groh make that argument either. I just hear a lot of other people insist UVA’s standards are better and was wondering if there was really anything behind it. Thanks for the information.

  25. Meg, I believe that they have had a very high graduation rate and in the ACC it is only being beaten by Duke. At least this was true during the past years. I would rather be a occasionally good with high standards then to ever when a national championships.

  26. Each year, UVA increases the price of their tickets
    (and required donation amount) and they want a packed
    house full of die-hard donors/fans, however, they aren’t
    willing to change their standards for student-athletes to
    create a more competitive football program. At some point,
    something has to give…either make the tickets more
    affordable to watch B(?) list athletes or give me more
    bang for my buck with some true athletes.

    If the University wants to take so much from donors in the way
    of money, they need to be willing to lower their standards.

    Lowering the academic requirements of “The University” does not
    take away from the prestigious academic foundation that “The
    University” is founded upon.

    For the record, I am not just a “townie” who likes a good
    football game. My husband is a student and he comes from a long
    line of UVa graduates.

  27. Chris makes an excellent point — the majority of student-athletes at UVa are excited to be at such a prestigious school (intimidated, too, but very aware of what an opportunity it is); the majority of them work hard, extremely hard, to make the most of the opportunity; the majority of them are great kids whom it’s a pleasure to get to know. We hear about the high-profile flame-outs and we have pre-existing negative stereotypes that we bring to bear on this issue, which is too bad.

  28. UVa Fan writes, “Lowering the academic requirements of ‘The University’ does not take away from the prestigious academic foundation that ‘The University’ is founded upon.”

    I think it does — it is exactly the thing that detracts from both the reputation and the actual experience. If the bar is set lower, and less capable students are given admittance, it lowers the level of engagement in the classroom, it lowers the level of performance on essays and exams, it lowers the general intellectual level on Grounds. (I say this, by the way, as someone who graduated from way less prestigious universities and who is actually quite cynical about the whole prestige thing.) The current faculty doesn’t have much tolerance for less than stellar performance; they teach to a pretty high level, and they’re not keen on coming down from that level. So more kids will fail or get into academic trouble. I don’t see how that’s good for the academic prestige of the university.

  29. That is fine if UVa wants to set their standards for student-athletes high, but don’t boo-“hoo” (haha!) about the season being in the gutter and then turn around next year and want me to pay more for my tickets and oh yea, if I want to keep where I sat last year, I have to donate even more….That is the point I am trying to make here, that for some reason is getting lost. Pretty good athletes=pretty good ticket prices; awesome athletes=top dollar ticket prices.

  30. It’s also completely unfair to allow students to graduate who are not, in fact, qualified for their diploma. Very few student athletes are going to have a career in professional sports, and those that do are liable to find that career lasts only a half decade or so. It’s wrong to use a kid (and that’s what we’d be doing—using them) to improve our school’s athletic standards without regard for the kid’s well-being.

    I count myself among those who support a separation of college sports from college. Universities can have their football teams, but if they’re going to abandon or even reduce their academic standards for the teams’ members, why make them students? Make them employees, and drop the fig leaf of education.

  31. I agree with Chris and Perlogik wholeheartedly. I believe we need to emulate Duke on this one. Man, when Duke wins a single game against a decent team, it’s a serious cause for celebration. When Florida beats a decent team, it’s like, so what. And when they lose, it’s like the end of the world. Let’s invite more joy by lowering our expectations rather than invite a lesser academic standard by raising our expectations. I think the status quo pretty much gives us this.

  32. Anyone who wishes to see the impact of enforced good behavior and higher standards of learning need look no further than Touchdown Jesus for further backup of the fact that disallowing partial qualifiers and using the “special abilities” a la Duke basketball or Hokie Football (Marcus Vick still on the hall of fame with 36 credits in 3 years…) creates an imbalance of talent in the revenue sports. Non revenue sports like swimming, diving, lax, commie kickball and the like remain competitive.

  33. I am not sure you can put “enforced good behavior” in the same sentence with UVa Football…even all of those high standards they see the courtroom more than the field.

  34. UVa Fan, that’s just bullcrap. There are about 60 kids on scholarship at any given time, more who are in a walk-on role. How many of them “see the courtroom more than the field”? I can name about five or six who’ve had trouble with the law.

  35. Let’s not forget that (white, suburban) non-athletes also sometimes lie, cheat, steal, and assault, but it doesn’t get any media attention. Geez, nothing ticks me off more than the easy assertion, based on stereotypes, that football players are predominately thugs who blow off their classes.

  36. Cecil, I am not sure I understand the meaning of “enforced good behavior” than…I was trying to say that these football
    players at UVa are in court more than they play (which
    is what you went on to say…). Just wanted to clarify!

  37. Cecil, Sure, all sports have their issues and players that are on the wrong side of the law or honor code, but I am not sure you want to bet the ranch that the revenue sports have better grad rates and lower issues than the non-rev sports.

    It is the academic standards that are held to that keeps the rate of problems lower in the football/hoops program than the top programs.

    But if you want to try and stand the football program against the lax program for problems vs. graduation vs. success you will have the same success as Groh this year, not much.

  38. danpri, if you go back and read carefully, you’ll see that I never said that revenue sports have better grad rates/fewer issues than non-revenue sports. In fact, I didn’t say anything at all about revenue v. non-revenue sports. So, WTF?

    UVa Fan, I don’t think you understand: I DISPUTE that football players at UVa are in court more than they are on the field. That is NOT what I “went on to say.” I assert that it is hyperbolic (and based on stereotypes) to say that UVa football players are in court more than they play. So, to you too, WTF?

  39. I’d have to re-read Virginius Dabney’s Mr Jefferson’s
    University, but I’m fairly certain that he said that TJ was
    against organized sport. Funny how much importance is placed
    on that now.

  40. thought this article said it all

    By Jerry Ratcliffe

    Published: December 7, 2008

    Regardless of what transpires over the next 24 hours in terms of Virginia football, there are a few things that need to be said.

    For those who tend to live on the negative side, then you should skip on to something else.

    I’m not a Virginia alum. My allegiances as a fan have rested with a school in the Deep South since I was old enough to watch football. I’m paid to be an impartial observer of UVa athletics, something I’ve done since 1982.

    I was at the press conference when George Welsh was introduced as coach and have missed only two games since. Over the years, I’ve gained a lot of insight and inside knowledge from Welsh, his assistants, and Al Groh and his staff, stuff that most people aren’t privy.

    That’s why I find it necessary to defend Groh in this column today. Yes, I do like Groh. I think he’s a good coach and I believe he will get things going again at UVa.

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