Why Do You Hate Me, Al Groh?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IOctober 12, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 24:  Head coach Al Groh of the Virginia Cavaliers looks on during the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Scott Stadium on November 24, 2007 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Virginia Tech defeated Virginia 33-21.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Dear Coach Groh,

How are you? 

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Ben, a loyal Wahoo.  Both my father and grandfather went to UVA and I became a third-generation Cavalier while you were coach of the Virginia Cavaliers from 2003-2007. 

I shook hands with you once in 2004 at Alumni Hall after a special class celebration; it was quite the intimidating experience.  After all, here was a former NFL coach and the face of the program shaking my hand.  Let’s face it, orange is your color.

However, I must ask you a simple question.  Why do you hate me?

I wanted you to succeed so badly at Virginia.  You had NFL experience, you were a Virginia alum, and you gave answers to the media that required a doctorate in BS to decipher.  You came in and talked about how you would change the culture and make Virginia a power in the ACC and in the country.

I believed.

I let you get rid of the pep band.  I let you stuff the “Sea of Orange” t-shirts down our throats as you replaced those gorgeous sundresses with bland uniformity.  I did my part to make Scott Stadium an intimidating atmosphere and not one to be ridiculed by Cavalier Daily columnists.

In return, what have I gotten?

A team that always breaks my heart.

Oh, we have had some good times Al.  The 2002 season where your team overachieved and went 9-5 was really exciting.  I liked the part when we knocked out nationally-ranked opponents Maryland and N.C. State in consecutive weeks.

I thought things were changing for the better.

They weren’t.

You see, each and every year I had faith that Virginia football would reach the “next level” and just like Charlie Brown using Lucy to hold the football, I ended up flat on my back staring up to the sky in a sense of sheer sorrow.

So often, I wanted to yell and scream at you just like Charlie Brown undoubtedly wanted to do to Lucy.  However, this season I came to the realization that the fault is mine.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The problem isn’t you lifting the football, it is me trusting you to hold it.

So after a loss to William & Mary and putrid performance against Texas Christian University, I had moved on.  I was done with you Al Groh and I was simply counting down the days until we had a fresh, young face that could turn the program around that you had sent crashing into the ground.

I thought we had an understanding!

However, here you go again trying to get me to hope.  With Virginia on life support, the Cavaliers shock the North Carolina Tar Heels and follow it up with a complete massacre of the Indiana Hoosiers.

All of the sudden, Virginia could pass the ball with amazing efficiency.  The defense was making big plays.  The special teams unit actually learned how to field a punt.  I did not recognize the team I was watching.

You were doing the exact same thing and getting a completely different result, which meant you were driving me insane!

Groh, you’re acting like an abusive boyfriend.  You break my heart and then try to make amends with gifts and apologies.

So I must really ask, why?  Why do you keep trying to act like you can coach?  Why must you keep trying to save your job only to let me down again next season?

Everyone else can see that you’re bad for me.  Virginia Tech fans hail you as a God.  Wake Forest fans thank you for going to Virginia instead of Jim Grobe.  The other ACC teams actually feel sorry for us!

However, the worst part is yet to come.  I know how this script ends Al.  You will keep winning just enough to let me get my hopes up.  Despite every instinct in my body, I will reach a point where I believe Virginia can get the job done.

Maybe Virginia will actually get to a bowl game?

Maybe Virginia will actually beat the Hokies in an epic BCS-buster finale?

Then reality kicks in.

Groh, your team follows no rhyme or reason.  You are just as likely to beat Maryland by 30 as you are to lose to the Terrapins by 50.  Your team shows me what it can achieve and constantly falls short of that mark each and every year.

So I am writing this letter to tell you that I have to break it off.  I have to end this coaching relationship before I get attached to this team again and start to believe.  I simply cannot go through another heartbreak in November again.

I cannot endure having to watch the Hokies hoist the ACC trophy every single year while we are stuck trying to explain losses to Wyoming, Western Michigan, Southern Mississippi, and William & Mary to our friends and family.

Let me be clear about this though.  It’s not me, it’s you.

You did this to yourself.  I know you’re a pretty good guy and you cannot physically go out there and execute the plays for your players, but come on.  When your team is this consistently inconsistent, that says something about leadership.

Sure, the team deserves credit for keeping hope alive, but they should never be in these desperate situations to begin with.

Thank you for your time, coach.  I will be waiting for your response and will be waiting to see how this team progresses the rest of the season.   If only I didn’t already know the answer.

The Virginia Fans


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