Groh sycophants only tell part of the story

Jerry Ratcliffe doesn’t think you have a right to say your piece. What you look at as being an American type that’s used to being able to share an opinion that might run counter to what he’s thinking at the time, he looks at as “negativity.”
Funny thing, this “negativity,” which is so bad that Ratcliffe claims an unnamed former UVa. All-American came up to him and said he preferred playing road games because the atmosphere at Scott Stadium was so negative.

(Have to wonder who that might have been. The context clues point to it being Chris Long. At least that’s what you’d have to assume. Otherwise … Heath Miller? I digress.)

I’m a regular at games in Scott Stadium, have been since 1990. I expected negativity this year, especially after the 52-7 rout at the hands of USC in the opener and the 16-0 struggle against Richmond the next Saturday that was followed up by the beatdowns at UConn. and Duke. And I didn’t see it, not in the stadium. Sure, the attendance was down pretty noticeably after the 1-3 start, but even with smaller crowds, the mood was almost festive even at the outset of the Maryland game that jumpstarted an improbable four-game midseason winning streak, and was still not what you could call at all accursed in the devastating overtime loss to Miami and the noneffort that was the home finale against Clemson.

So that’s bunk, and Jerry knows it. (And Chris, if it was you who said you preferred road games, and Jerry wasn’t putting words in your mouth, you know it, too.)

Also bunk is the long-winded argument that he laid out about how Groh had to play the ’08 season with his third-string quarterback and if he’d had Jameel Sewell or Pete Lalich around the whole season he’d have been in the ACC Championship Game and essentially shouldn’t we pat the guy on the back for making the most of a bad situation? Except, Jerry, and you know this, or should, that a coach in college football isn’t just the coach, but also the general manager and player-personnel director. I remember Groh saying back in ’04 that Bill Parcells liked to say that you couldn’t blame the chef for how the dinner came out unless you let him go buy the groceries. Well, Jerry, Al has been to the grocery store eight times now, and if he doesn’t have a quarterback academically or legal-system eligible to run his offense, that’s not misfortune, that’s not Oh, pity poor ol’ Al, that’s on the coach.

But why deal in realities when you can dismiss those realities as being the excesses of the nattering nabobs of negativism? And then with a straight face, we have to assume, compare the eight years of the Groh era and the last eight years of George Welsh and say that Groh has been right there with Welsh when the fact is that Welsh didn’t have a losing season in his final 15 (!) years in Charlottesville and Groh has had three in his eight? And then conveniently overlook that they ran ol’ George out of town for doing that much better over his final eight than Groh has done in his eight trips to the grocery store and such, and invited Groh in to talk in his introductory press conference about winning a national championship?
You know, a conference championship would be good – no, check that, a state championship would be good. Virginia is 1-7 against Virginia Tech under Groh, and that record is only going to get worse when you look at what they have going on down in Blacksburg right now. In case you missed it, the Hokies lost most of their defense from ’07, including their two defensive stalwarts, Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall, plus Branden Ore and their top four wide receivers, and they’re back in the BCS with a team as young, if not younger, than what Groh put out on the field this year. What I’m saying here is that they’re only going to get a lot better, and what they’re improving on is back-to-back BCS appearances.

I’m “negative,” I know, for pointing all this out, and for daring to suggest, as a UVa. alum, as a long-time observer of this program, as a thinking, rational person, that it might be time for a change. No, actually, here’s how negative I am: I’m seriously considering bagging my extensive wardrobe of Virginia gear, all the T-shirts, sweatshirts, jogging pants, basketball shorts, the collection of hats in every style and color scheme, and donating it to Goodwill in protest. I’m definitely going to write the people who keep sending me letters asking me for donations, from the athletics department and from the academic side, to tell them to bugger off, as I would if there was a situation involving, say, the head of the government and politics department that I graduated from that could be a parallel, or if I didn’t like the direction that the president or the Board of Visitors was taking things.

(Another column for another day, that one.)

It’s really no different than how things work in newspapers. Let’s say you’re in charge of a department at the paper, and your staff is constantly getting beaten on the big stories right there in your coverage area, and people start recognizing that and start looking elsewhere for the real news because you’re not giving it to them. Me, personally, if I want to know what’s going on in UVa. athletics, I turn to Jeff White and Doug Doughty. I check the Ratcliffe Fanzine only when I want to know what officialdom has come up with in terms of damage control.

But there I go again, being “negative.”

 

– Column by Chris Graham



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