The Coaching Carousel Begins: Bon Voyage, Al Groh

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The Coaching Carousel Begins: Bon Voyage, Al Groh
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This article originally appeared on CubicleGM:

Little surprise, except possibly the expediency, that Al Groh departs as the head coach of the University of Virginia football program Sunday after what we can assume was a brief conversation with Craig Littlepage and John Casteen.  Groh is dismissed with a severance package unlikely surpassed by anybody except Ken Lewis: a $4.3 million buyout for the two remaining years on his contract (careful, the federal government might get involved).  A negotiation was never feasible.  Groh wanted to be the coach at Virginia, or at least was not willing to not be the coach on any terms other than those that weren’t his.

And so, more transition for Virginia athletics.  For those of you surprised that I am spending an entire post on the topic, I graduated from U.Va. and spent quite a bit of time down in Charlottesville.  A couple of thoughts to follow, please proceed at your convenience.

First, the Departure: Groh’s last public comments (aside from his personal statement) turn out to be a poem that he actually got wrong…  The Guy in the Glass is actually The Man in the Glass.  You can ask my mother: it was pasted as a reminder on our bathroom mirror at home growing up and is still there today.  I read it again last week.  Nevertheless, in those comments, Groh’s last “holier-than-thou” moment.

No surprise here, as it’s been happening for years.  It started with Kevin Mawae and Keyshawn Johnson in New York, and continues today.  Groh was always the “NFL guy” in a small town with a mid-tier ACC football program.  Like Dan Devine in Rudy, he was most often – literally or figuratively – on the tower at practice, watching from on high.  Just in case you were worried, old Al will sleep just fine on his new mattress of Benjamins supplied by you, me, and anyone else who has given money to U.Va. athletics.

I was at the press conference several years ago before Pete Gillen was fired as U.Va. basketball coach.  Pete was always a much more approachable and personable character than Al (you could usually find him at St. Maarten’s with a pitcher after a game, win or loss), but even then us reporters glanced awkwardly at one another waiting for someone to ask him the obvious.  “Pete, do you think this is your last game as coach at UVA?”  an elder statesman of the group and Associated Press writer finally asked.  I’ll never forget his face as he told us that only time would tell.

Groh preempted this situation on Saturday evening with the poem, but was asked a similar question on November 1, quoted again today in the Washington Post.  “I know a lot more about the situation than probably anybody,” he said then. “Maybe someday I’ll say what that is.”

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