Criticizing Mike London makes you a UVA hater? Calling BS

mike londonLast week I wrote a column needling some of my fellow UVA football fans for conflating the on-field struggles of coach Mike London as being indicative of some kind of moral failings on the part of London.

The basic message: London isn’t a good football head coach, but he’s a good guy, who’s recruiting good kids who represent the University well in every respect aside from the stuff on the football field.

So there was me, preaching.

Today there was a different sort of preaching going on. Scanning Twitter and the message boards during and after Virginia’s 26-19 loss at Pitt, there was a sentiment from some that any sort of criticism of the way things are going amounts to rooting against the program and against the kids out there busting their tails, and that basically those who are critical should be ashamed to call themselves UVA football fans.

Bullshit.

Can’t be more blunt than that, can I?

Today’s loss drops Virginia to 1-4 on the season. It’s probably safe to go ahead and forecast that this is going to be the fifth losing season in London’s six years at UVA.

If Virginia doesn’t win four more games, it will be the fourth season in six in which the London-led Cavs failed to get even five wins.

Al Groh had one such season, his last, in 2009.

Groh rubbed UVA fans the wrong way because of arrogance; London rubs fans the wrong way because of basic incompetence.

It’s no sin for a team to lose a game, but when it seems that the team loses in part, large part, because it has been unprepared, that comes down to the coaching staff. Two times this year, Virginia failed to show up early in games that the Cavs would go on to lose, at UCLA in the season opener and at Pitt in the ACC opener, and both were games in which UVA had extra time to prepare.

There are no excuses for not showing up. None.

There are also no excuses for delay of game and false-start penalties on third-and-goal. No excuses for blowing a timeout to prevent a delay of game inside your own 2 to preserve a yard.

No excuses for repeatedly allowing opponents to recover onside kicks. No excuses for multiple games in which your quarterbacks throw multiple pick-sixes.

No excuses for not having enough faith in your offense that you burn your timeouts trying to ice a kicker on a chip shot. No excuses for not knowing how many yards you have to go on fourth down when you decide to go for it on fourth down.

We keep hearing the excuses, keep hearing that things are progressing, that guys are working hard to address the situation.

Which is fine. Godspeed to them on that hard work seeing results.

In the meantime, it’s amazing that anybody outside the players’ parents even cares what happens with the football team anymore, so you’d think that the response to any form of passion about the program would be embraced as being something of a positive.

It’s really, really hard to commit the time, effort and heart to following this program anymore. It’s been so long since you’ve been able to look forward to the fall, to look forward to Saturdays, to think that there’s even a sliver of hope that the part of your day after the tailgate is going to be at all fruitful, that it’s amazing that there’s anybody left.

Counting back to the end of the Groh era, we’re talking seven losing seasons in the last nine, going on eight of the last 10.

Twenty-one losses in the last 26 ACC games; 12-31 overall dating back to the Saturday night that Virginia Tech came into Scott Stadium in November 2011 with the Coastal Division title on the line, and left with a 38-0 win.

The UVA fans who appear to be rooting against their favorite team on Saturdays are only doing so because they are fed up, frustrated, sad, mad as hell and not able to take it anymore, and also not at all interested in seeing another half-assed rally in the direction of a mediocre season end with the two-dollar circus being booked for another four-month run again next year.

And yet we are resigned to knowing full well that the ACC Coastal Division is pathetic enough this year that Virginia will limp to three or four wins, and that we will be told that those three or four wins will be enough to see this multimillion-dollar fiasco through to a conclusion in 2016.

Another offseason of indifference, leading to twelve more sadsack Saturdays, wailing and gnashing of the teeth, trying to pretend that we don’t care, letting ourselves get caught up in the moment every so often, then being told when we do and things predictably don’t work out for the good guys that we’re heretics if we as much offer a single discouraging word.

There are plenty of reasons for us to be ashamed that we call ourselves UVA football fans. Exactly none of them have anything to do with the fact that we as a group tend toward being critical.

– Column by Chris Graham


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