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Groh leaving, but this one’s first name is Mike is reporting that offensive coordinator Mike Groh and two fellow assistants will not be returning to the staff of University of Virginia football coach Al Groh next season.
Defensive line coach Levern Belin and secondary coach Steve Bernstein are also leaving in the wake of a disappointing 5-7 ’08 season in Charlottesville that ended with a four-game losing streak that saw the Cavs drop from first to fifth in the six-team ACC Coastal.

The departure of Mike Groh seemed to be the very least that was in the offing considering the poor record of his offenses in his three years as a coordinator. Virginia was 104th in total offense in 2008 and 101st and 113th in 2007 and 2006, respectively. The ‘Hoos could only muster 12.8 points and 266 yards a game in its final four games of 2008, losses to Miami (24-17 in overtime), Wake Forest (28-17), Clemson (13-3) and Virginia Tech (17-14).

UVa. has gone 19-18 overall during the Mike Groh tenure and posted losing seasons in 2006 and 2008. The program had had one losing season in its previous 20 dating back to 1986, Al Groh’s first year in 2001.

There was also a strong sentiment that Al Groh, like his son a Virginia alum, who is 56-44 in eight seasons at his alma mater, should be let go. Not only has the team not been the success on the field that Groh predicted when he talked openly about elevating the program to national-championship status when hired to replace the legendary George Welsh in 2000, but it has been struggling at the gate as well. Aside from a record attendance of just under 65,000 for its season-opening 52-7 loss to Southern Cal in August, the Cavs drew just under 52,000 per game for its other six home games this year, representing as much as a $3 million loss in ticket sales to the athletics department.

AD Craig Littlepage announced last week that he was not adding the customary extra year to Groh’s rolling four-year contract, meaning Groh, 64, has three years left on the deal. His UVa. teams have been 34-30 overall in the ACC and 11-21 on the road in conference play and 1-7 against rival Virginia Tech – including an 0-5 mark against the Hokies since their arrival in the ACC in 2004, a period during which Tech has won three conference titles.


– Story by Chris Graham