Would Shawn Moore Be a Good Hire for Virginia Football?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IJanuary 2, 2010

13 Oct 1990: Quarterback Shawn Moore of the Virginia Cavaliers speaks with his coach during a game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. Virginia won the game 31-0.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

One legendary Cavalier, Anthony Poindexter, is already on staff.

Now it appears Virginia head coach Mike London is looking to pick up one more.

The Roanoke Times announced that London went up to Maryland earlier this week to interview Shawn Moore, former Virginia quarterback and Heisman candidate during the pinnacle of the George Welsh era, to either become a Quarterback or Wide Receiver Coach for his alma mater.

Moore, alongside top wide receiver Herman Moore, helped propel Virginia to the No. 1 ranking in the country during the 1990 season. Along the way, Moore set just about every school record in the process and finished fourth in the Heisman balloting, the best finish of any ACC player in conference history at the time. He was also the most efficient passer in the country, more so than eventual Heisman winner Ty Detmer.

However, Moore's career ended rather tragically for Cavalier fans. An injury to the quarterback against Maryland broke down the Virginia offense and a team once 7-0 finished 8-3 after a second half collapse against Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl.

Moore went on to play three games in the NFL, never really the same after his injury and is now at St. Albans School in Washington D.C. as a high school football coach.

That is where things start to get interesting for Virginia fans.

After all, no one can really blame Mike London for wanting to connect back to the glory years. Shawn Moore is a name instantly recognizable to Virginia fans and he still brings back wonderful memories that could help re-energize the apathetic program.

Besides, who hasn't wanted "Moore" offense from Virginia these past few seasons?

However, is it really wise to bring in a new staff member with zero collegiate experience and no recruiting background? Virginia is in dire need of success and rolling the dice with Moore seems rather risky.

Poindexter was a risk for Al Groh, but he was brought along gradually. The great safety came in with zero coaching experience when he became a graduate assistant, only to be promoted to Running Back Coach. After some strong turnover, Poindexter headed the defensive secondary this season with mixed results.

While he has not been an unbelievable success, he has certainly not failed either. More importantly, his passion and energy of the sidelines has convinced many Virginia fans that he should represent their University. However, turning around this team will take more than fist bumps.

In truth, if Moore were to become part of the Virginia staff, his success (and his reception by fans) is much more dependent on who will eventually get the title of offensive coordinator. 

It is no surprise that Mike London has his eyes on former Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. The current quarterbacks coach with the Atlanta Falcons helped turn around the Virginia program in just two seasons during Groh's first years. 

Of course, it seems clear that Musgrave is a much bigger fan of NFL and seems unlikely to leave unless he is forced out by the Falcons. Granted, Atlanta has not met expectations this season, but Matt Ryan still appears to be a franchise quarterback and Musgrave's job appears to be safe.

This puts London in a tough situation. Offense has been a touchy subject in Virginia for years now. Without a proven quarterback, running back, or even a consistent wide receiver, the turnaround will not be swift. A homerun hire would buy him precious time, but those offensive geniuses do not exactly grow on trees.

In truth, London needs one thing and one thing only. It is the issue that brought down Groh and something that every top football program has.


In nine seasons at Virginia, Groh had four offensive coordinators, five defensive coordinators, and 10 starting quarterbacks. 

In contrast, the past nine seasons, rival coach Frank Beamer has had one offensive coordinator, one defensive coordinator, and five starting quarterbacks.

That's not to say that those assistant coaches are free from criticism or blame. Both Brian Stinespring and Bud Foster have ruffled feathers with Hokie fans from time to time over that span.

Nevertheless, head coaches that hold on to their top assistants maintain success. They also maintain recruiting ties, something that London is desperately trying to achieve as the new head coach at Virginia.

Considering that the program is once again going through change and transition, London has to make sure that the decisions stick. That way his team can be successful in both the short and the long term.

Rebuilding the Virginia football team will not be an easy process and the Shawn Moore decision will not be one either. If Moore is hired, his success or failure will be closely monitored. 

We all remember Moore as a quarterback. A strong-armed kid who was not afraid to throw it deep and made big plays when it mattered most. Moore has worked in quarterback camps for years and he certainly knows a thing or two about the position. Can he translate his game to a young apprentice?

It is one of the many challenges facing Virginia this offseason and one of the first decisions that will make a significant impact on the program.