Poetic ending?

Groh goes out in verse

Story by Chris Graham
Photos by Mark Miller
With AFP Audio

A reporter’s question on Al Groh’s status at the University of Virginia following the Cavs’ 42-13 loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech prompted the nine-year head football coach to pull out a piece of paper.

True to form, the unpredictable Groh used the occasion to read a poem, “The Man in the Glass,” by Dale Wimbrow, with the theme that “the fellow whose verdict counts most in your life is the one staring back from the glass.”

“When I visited the guy in the glass,” Groh said after reading the last line in the poem, “I saw that he’s a guy of commitment, of integrity, of dependability and accountability. He’s loyal, his spirit is indomitable, and he’s caring and loving.”

“I’m sure I will always call the guy in the glass a friend,” said the enigmatic Groh, whose loss to the Hokies was his eighth in nine games at Virginia, and sent UVa. to its sixth consecutive loss to end the 2009 season.


UVa. coach Al Groh reads from “The Man in the Glass” (2:08)



Despite the final score, this one was in doubt until well into the second half. Virginia got out to an early 7-0 lead on a 15-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Jameel Sewell, and it was still only 14-13 Tech when Sewell botched an option pitch that was recovered by Kam Chancellor and returned to the UVa. 10 with 6:22 left in the third.

Ryan Williams scored two plays later to make it 21-13 Hokies, who went up 28-13 with 12:50 left in the fourth on another Williams scoring run, his fourth of the day.

The game was put out of reach 2:29 later when wide receiver Jarrett Boykin recovered a Williams fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and a 35-13 lead.

David Wilson scampered into the end zone on a 10-yard run with 2:43 left to close out the scoring.



Frank Beamer’s postgame press conference (7:53)



Williams and the Hokies dominated the game on the ground, with Williams gaining 183 yards on 23 carries and scoring four touchdowns, and Tech rolling up an even 300 yards on the ground on 44 carries.

UVa. could manage just 93 yards of total offense in the second half after gaining 200 yards all told in a first half that ended with a 33-yard Robert Randolph field goal that brought the ‘Hoos to within one at 14-13 at the break.

It had appeared before the game that win or lose Groh was going to be on his way out after posting his third losing season in the last four years at his alma mater. That much seemed apparent after the game, as his wife and daughter and other family gathered in the media room for an emotional family hug.

Senior linebacker Aaron Clark said the locker room was itself an emotional place to be afterward.

“As far as the details, that’s personal locker-room talk for the team. Just basically that he stands behind us, and he’s proud of us, and we’d do the same for him. He’s a great guy, he’s a great coach, and I love the guy,” Clark said.

Tech coach Frank Beamer put a good word in for his rival in Charlottesville.

“What I know about Al is he’s a good football coach, he runs a good program, they do it the right way, he’s a good, good person, and that’s what I know about Al Groh,” said Beamer, whose team improved to 9-3 on the season in winning its fourth game in a row, and 10th in its last 11 against Virginia.

Virginia finished 2009 with a 3-9 record.


The Day in Pictures: Photos by Mark Miller


A first-quarter touchdown by Jameel Sewell gave UVa.
an early 7-0 lead.

Tyrod Taylor completed 8 of his 15 pass attempts for 185 yards.

Chris Cook intercepted a Taylor pass in the end zone
in the third quarter to stop a Tech drive.

This third-quarter touchdown by Ryan Williams gave
Virginia Tech a 21-13 lead.

Ras-I Dowling tracked down Ryan Williams on a 51-yard run, but Jarrett Boykin recovered
the fumble in the end zone for a Virginia Tech touchdown.

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