Home Mailbag: What happens with Tony Elliott if UVA has another three-win season in 2024?

Mailbag: What happens with Tony Elliott if UVA has another three-win season in 2024?

Chris Graham
tony elliott
Photo: UVA Athletics

After having a conversation with someone I believe to be a significant alumni donor to UVA Athletics, and a huge football supporter, this question pops into my mind.

What if (as some believe) the wheels again fall off the Virginia football team this season, with maybe 2-3 wins.

Does the status quo remain the same?

Or, do Carla Williams and Tony Elliott get flushed down the drain together?

From my conversation, I get the feeling that prolonging the inevitable is not an option.

So, if Virginia is 2-10, 3-9, what happens next?


Deep breath, here we go again.

Too many in the UVA “fan” base, the self-loathing part, which is maybe more sizable than at other schools, and is certainly disproportionately loud, love to engage in these kinds of hypotheticals.

I’ve been public with my thinking that I think Tony Elliott gets it turned around this year, enough to get Virginia into a cold-weather bowl – one of those played in a baseball stadium in late December.

But, OK, I’ll concede, that’s also a hypothetical.

As much as I like the two QBs, the O and D lines, what Elliott was able to do on the transfer portal this offseason, this is a big year for Elliott, who is coming off back-to-back three-win seasons.

Another three-win season, or something proximate, would mean, what, exactly, for his future?

It won’t mean his job.

The pressure would ratchet up a level, because of the new $80 million football ops center that opened earlier this month.

With money comes expectations (see JPJ, and Dave Leitao).

But UVA is not going to fire a football coach three years into his first deal, outside of some for-cause reason – and not winning is not a for-cause reason.

Another sub-.500 season has Elliott going into Year 4, in 2025, with his seat getting warmer, sure.

He’d have to do a better job with prep recruiting – his 2025 class, per 247Sports, is currently ranked 40th nationally, up from (gulp) 88th in 2024, and 64th in 2023.

And there would have to be somewhat obvious hope going into 2025 that next year would be the year that I’m cautiously expecting will rear its head this year.

The people who just want to fire everybody every year need to realize that firing somebody means starting over, again, meaning, having to start from scratch again, with kids scattering to the winds, new coaches needing to make contacts with high-school coaches for recruiting, et cetera.

And you need to consider how firing a coach three years into a contract plays with the pool of potential candidates to replace him.

I think Elliott has more incremental progress this year, and gets Virginia into a cold-weather bowl that I will probably end up skipping, because I don’t do well with cold.

I see 2025 as probably being a hold-serve year, because the staff will need to work in new guys on the lines.

By 2026, Year 5, this is the year that Elliott needs to have Virginia in contention to be a player in the ACC, capable of winning eight or nine games, pulling a major upset or two.

Give it some time, is my message here.

And three years isn’t enough time.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].