Chris Graham: Five thoughts on the direction of UVa. football

uva logoHow long has it been since UVa. football has been this bad for this long? Here’s something that might put things in perspective: Kids being looked at by coach Mike London and his staff in high school right now would remember exactly one Virginia win over Virginia Tech.

(And that’s if they were paying attention to college football when they were 7.)

Saturday’s 14-3 loss at Pitt, in which the Cavs gained 188 yards of total offense against a defense that just last week gave up 523 yards and 55 points to Duke, might well be the nadir.

The loss dropped Virginia to 18-23 under London, and 48-58 since the Nov. 13, 2004 game at home against Miami when the ‘Hoos were last in the Top 10 in the country nationally.

The loss to the ‘Canes that night was the beginning of a 1-3 finish to that season, and UVa. has had just three winning seasons since (2005, 2007 and 2011). This year’s bunch doesn’t seem destined to make it four, with the challenges faced by the offense (32 points in 12 quarters against I-A opponents in 2013) and a schedule that will likely have Virginia favored only twice (the Cavs are currently five-point favorites against Ball State, and should be favored at home against Duke later this month).

If the lines hold up, then, that puts UVa. at another 4-8 season, which would be the third in four seasons under London.

Is it possible that the program can turn things around to push past 4-8 into bowl eligibility? If not, does London survive 2013 to year five of his original five-year deal?

(London signed a two-year extension after his lone winning season in 2011, pushing his deal through 2016.)

Five thoughts on the direction of UVa. football.

It’s not going to get any better this year. The 2013 season might have a chance if London were to dare to shake things up on offense, either replacing struggling quarterback David Watford (ranked 104th in pass efficiency in I-A) or offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, but London is not known for being proactive.

Too many people in high places have too much invested in London to make a change after this year. See Jon Oliver, Heir Apparent to Athletics Director Craig Littlepage. Oliver pushed for London when the job opened up after the dismissal of Al Groh, and London was the only person interviewed for the open job. It’s hard to imagine Oliver succeeding Littlepage as everyone expects if UVa. has to get rid of his handpicked football coach before he takes the reins.

Recruiting. UVa. fans are tired of hearing about great recruiting classes, because London and Groh have been putting up big numbers on the recruiting trail for years. But London has maybe his best class ready to sign on the bottom line in February 2014.

Development. How long will it take the great 2014 recruiting class to translate into success on the field? See Great Recruiting Classes of 2004-2013. Forever. And a day.

Irrelevance. This isn’t the direction of UVa. football. UVa. football is already irrelevant. Duke has won four of its last five against UVa. UVa. is now the ACC’s homecoming opponent. Football season is what it was back in the 1960s and 1970s – something to pass the time before the start of basketball season. Time for the kids to break out the suits, ties and Laura Ashley dresses for games again.


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