Archive for April, 2009

Worst Year Ever?

April 14, 2009

It’s been noted by local media that Virginia’s men’s basketball program just suffered its worst season in terms of winning percentage since 1966-67, its fewest wins since 1967-68, and its worst two-year run by one coach since 1972-74.  The result was head coach Dave Leitao’s “resignation” following a 4-year reign – the shortest for the position in nearly 80 years.


This comes on the heels of a 5-7 football campaign – the worst in… wait for it… two years.  But two years ago, the men’s basketball team was winning a share of the regular season conference title and advancing to the round of 32 in March.  Ultimately, how bad is this academic year in terms of Virginia athletics?


Like the American economic engine, is it the worst in recent memory?  Like calendar year 2008 for Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, the music business, the housing industry, and so many others was it the “worst year ever” ?


We all know AD Craig Littlepage’s program continues to churn out ACC winners and national title contenders in other sports, but in terms of the two big dogs generating the most revenue and fan interest (both waning?), 2008-09 ranks as his worst on the job and near the all-time nadir.  2008-09 offered:


  • The fewest combined football & men’s basketball wins (15) since 1976-77, when football went 2-9 and basketball followed with a 12-17 campaign
  • The fewest combined regular-season ACC wins (7) since 1984-85 (6)
  • The lowest combined winning percentage (.375) since 1976-77 (.350)
  • The lowest combined regular-season ACC winning percentage (.292) since 1976-77 (.176)
  • The first year with no postseason in either sport since 1997-98 (football did finish 7-4 that year)



Year Football Men’s Basketball Combined Wins Combined Win Pct
ACC Overall Postseason ACC Overall Postseason ACC Overall ACC Overall
1970-71 0-6 5-6   6-8 15-11   6 20       0.300       0.541
1971-72 2-3 3-8   8-4 21-7 NIT (1st round) 10 24       0.588       0.615
1972-73 1-5 4-7   4-8 13-12   5 17       0.278       0.472
1973-74 3-3 4-7   4-8 11-16   7 15       0.389       0.395
1974-75 1-5 4-7   4-8 12-13   5 16       0.278       0.444
1975-76 0-5 1-10   4-8 18-12 NCAA (1st round) 4 19       0.235       0.463
1976-77 1-4 2-9   2-10 12-17   3 14       0.176       0.350
1977-78 1-5 1-9   6-6 20-8   7 21       0.389       0.553
1978-79 0-6 2-9   7-5 19-10 NIT (2nd round) 7 21       0.389       0.525
1979-80 2-4 6-5   7-7 24-10 NIT (Champ) 9 30       0.450       0.667
1980-81 2-4 4-7   13-1 29-4 NCAA (Final 4) 15 33       0.750       0.750
1981-82 0-6 1-10   12-2 30-4 NCAA (Sweet 16) 12 31       0.600       0.689
1982-83 1-5 2-9   12-2 29-5 NCAA (Elite 8 ) 13 31       0.650       0.689
1983-84 3-3 6-5   6-8 21-12 NCAA (Final 4) 9 27       0.450       0.614
1984-85 3-1-2 8-2-2 Peach (win) 3-11 17-16 NIT (3rd round) 6 25       0.300       0.556
1985-86 4-3 6-5   7-7 19-11 NCAA (1st round) 11 25       0.524       0.610
1986-87 3-8 2-5   8-6 21-10 NCAA (1st round) 11 23       0.440       0.605
1987-88 5-2 8-4 All-American (win) 5-9 13-18   10 21       0.476       0.488
1988-89 5-2 7-4   9-5 22-11 NCAA (Elite 8 ) 14 29       0.667       0.659
1989-90 6-1 10-3 Citrus (loss) 6-8 20-12 NCAA (2nd round) 12 30       0.571       0.667
1990-91 5-2 8-4 Sugar (loss) 6-8 21-12 NCAA (1st round) 11 29       0.524       0.644
1991-92 4-2-1 8-3-1 Gator (loss) 8-8 20-13 NIT (Champ) 12 28       0.522       0.622
1992-93 4-4 7-4   9-7 21-10 NCAA (Sweet 16) 13 28       0.542       0.667
1993-94 5-3 7-5 Carquest (loss) 8-8 18-13 NCAA (2nd round) 13 25       0.542       0.581
1994-95 5-3 9-3 Independence (win) 12-4 25-9 NCAA (Elite 8 ) 17 34       0.708       0.739
1995-96 7-1 9-4 Peach (win) 6-10 12-15   13 21       0.542       0.525
1996-97 5-3 7-5 Carquest (loss) 7-9 18-13 NCAA (1st round) 12 25       0.500       0.581
1997-98 5-3 7-4   3-13 11-19   8 18       0.333       0.439
1998-99 6-2 9-3 Peach (win) 4-12 14-16   10 23       0.417       0.548
1999-00 5-3 7-5 (loss) 9-7 19-12 NIT (1st round) 14 26       0.583       0.605
2000-01 5-3 6-6   9-7 20-9 NCAA (1st round) 14 26       0.583       0.634
2001-02 3-5 5-7   7-9 17-12 NIT (1st round) 10 22       0.417       0.537
2002-03 6-2 9-5 Continental Tire (win) 6-10 16-16 NIT (2nd round) 12 25       0.500       0.543
2003-04 4-4 8-5 Continental Tire (win) 6-10 18-13 NIT (2nd round) 10 26       0.417       0.591
2004-05 5-3 8-4 MPC Computers (loss) 4-12 14-15   9 22       0.375       0.537
2005-06 3-5 7-5 Music City (win) 7-9 15-15 NIT (1st round) 10 22       0.417       0.524
2006-07 4-4 5-7   11-5 21-11 NCAA (2nd round) 15 26       0.625       0.591
2007-08 6-2 9-4 Gator (loss) 5-11 17-16 CBI (3rd round) 11 26       0.458       0.565
2008-09 3-5 5-7   4-12 10-18   7 15       0.292       0.375

Al Groh: Full Disclosure 12 Months Later

April 9, 2009

Wide Kevin Ogletree once called Virginia HC Al Groh “a real up front guy, very honest.”  During his brief tenure in charge of the NFL’s Jets, The New York Times referred to him as “tight-lipped.”  Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times said “he’s never shown an eagerness to admit, ‘I was wrong.’”


In today’s Daily Progress, Groh aficionado Jerry Ratcliffe relates that according to the head man “plans were in place last spring to add Vic Hall to the offensive mix.”


Ratcliffe goes on speculate about formations that would include both Hall and fellow mobile QB Jameel Sewell in the same backfield.  Groh is typically noncommittal on the idea, answering a question with a question: “Shall we say they are both versatile players?”  That’s normally par for the course when it comes to responses from big Al, who this year has kept all practices closed for the first time in his nine springs in order to “provide maximum opportunity for focus and concentration for the players.”


To be sure, no one expects Groh to be completely open & forthcoming in answering questions from his favorite group of people – the media.  But what of honesty, honor, and at least not contradicting one’s self when a detailed answer is given?  Remember Groh’s comments about Vic Hall last season?


Hall nearly single-handedly led Virginia to a road upset in Blacksburg over eventual ACC & Orange Bowl champion Virginia Tech.  After the game, Groh answered what-if questions about playing Hall earlier with an icy “That’s not the way I live.”


Just days earlier, Norm Wood of the Daily Press noted that Groh “exercised a pretty good poker face” when in the week leading up to the game he offered the following:


“Actually, we first just began to acquaint him with just some rudimentary phases of the offense back before the Connecticut game, when we were only going to have two active quarterbacks [Marc Verica and Scott Deke] for the game.  If there was ever a circumstance in the previous games where we’d been down to the third quarterback, then he probably could’ve gotten in and played two or three plays.”


Certainly, Groh didn’t want to tip off Frank Beamer and the LPD, but did he have to be that specific about details that may not have been 100% factual?  Than again, maybe it was a just a case of mistaken circumstances…

Is Quiet a Good Thing?

April 7, 2009

Highlights from spring football in Charlottesville…


Vic Hall under center

Hall will work “will work at quarterback exclusively” during the spring according to HC Al Groh, and will be “the first person up” at the position where three returnees (Hall, Jameel Sewell, and Marc Verica) have all started games.  Groh says Verica will come in second, as he is “the next person who started at quarterback here.”  Not that Groh wouldn’t state something like that without a caveat… “as with all positions, that will change with competition over 15 days of practices.


Secondary depth

Even if Hall does not play another down at corner (where he has “plenty of background”), new secondary coach Anthony Poindexter has four other players who have started at that position: Chris Cook, Chase Minnifield, Mike Parker, and Ras-I Dowling.  Cook, who along with Sewell served an academic suspension last season, will start on the second team but was “one of our better players two seasons ago” according to Groh.  Rodney McLeod – the Bill Dudley Award recipient as last season’s most outstanding first-year player – has been moved to safety, where he will likely team with fellow sophomore Corey Mosley – who was recently found not guilty of misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident at a Student Activities Building dance in February.


Teams can’t get worse

In pointing out the obvious and/or taking a shot at the departed Bob Diaco, Groh stated this month that “the area where our team can make the greatest leap forward is with special teams.”  Ron Prince inherits a unit that Virginia finsihed 92nd nationally in punt returns and 70th in kickoff returns.  Placekicker will feature a familiar battle as former soccer player Yannick Reyering (6-11 last season), former walk-on Robert Randolph (3-4) and former Chris Gould heir apparent Chris Hinkebein (briefly handled kickoffs).


Next in line on the line

With Eugene Monroe set to join former Cavs D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Branden Albert, Brad Butler, and Elton Brown in the NFL, Landon Bradley will step into the left tackle role as a redshirt sophomore with only one game of experience.  Bradley, who doesn’t “feel like [he’s] so far behind Eugene,” will join four returning starters in RT Will Barker, RG BJ Cabbell (sitting out the spring recovering from knee surgery), C Jack Shields, and LG Austin Pasztor.


Position moves

Andrew Devlin has been moved from TE to DE and may have a shot at the starting spot vacated by Alex Field.  Groh says Devlin “grew out of tight end,” weighs “267 now and will be 275 before you know it,” and wasn’t moved “”not to play him.”  Still, one has to wonder if the switch to new OC Greggg Brandon’s spread offense had anything to do with it.  Devlin appeared to be a promising backup to John Phillips last season, and Brandon stated upon being hired that he would “play the best players. If the tight ends are some of our best players, then we’ll find a place for them. At Bowling Green, we used a tight end quite a bit when we had one that’s a pretty good player.”


Spread impact

Speaking of the new offense, The Roanoke Times’ Doug Doughty relayed from Groh that after watching film of last season Brandon “said we were efficient, but efficiency doesn’t always translate into touchdowns. You need explosiveness.”  If 300 yards/game (105th nationally in total offense) is efficient, Groh and Brandon might want to beware of real-estate agents pitching acreage.  If Virginia really was efficient last year and just couldn’t score, there might have been a larger gap between their scoring offense ranking (114) and their total offense ranking (105).


Vinny Two-Times

April 2, 2009

Vinny Cerrato has long been known to stretch the truth, keep information from his audience, and generally attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of his fanbase and the DC media.


Perhaps no incident illustrated this more than last year’s trade for DE Jason Taylor.  As detailed by Redskin Insider Jason La Canfora, Vinny “implicitly concede[d] that he was lying through his teeth to every media entity that covers the Redskins on a daily basis. Yet somehow he still wonders why people don’t take him seriously? (This is also the guy who claims the team misquoted him in its own press release in 2005. I’ll never quite fathom that one.”


Fast forward eight months and Taylor is no longer on the team after playing in the fewest games of his career (13) and posting career lows in tackles (29) & sacks (3.5).  Toward the end of the season, Taylor himself even admitted “I’m not worth 8 million dollars.”



But to this day Cerrato (naturally) says he would still do the “Jason Taylor thing” (2nd & 6th round picks for an overpaid DTWS contestant who no other NFL team wanted at that price) if it “were the same thing right now.”  Taylor, after all, gave “the guys some confidence” after Phillip Daniels went down.


Vinny’s latest step into the hypocritical has centered working out, and more specifically, mandatory working out.  After cutting Taylor for refusing to add a 75%-attenednce-at-offseason-conditioning-program-at-Redskin-Park clause to his contract, he offered:


“I don’t think it’s fair to the rest of the team…  when he’s just gonna stay home and not work out. And to me, as you get older, you need to work out and be in a structured environment where you have strength coaches, you have people pushing to get the best.”


Seems fair, but consider that last year Cerrato told Doc Walker the following when justifying CB Shawn Springs’ absence during OTA’s:


“I know he’s in town and he works out with the boxing guy, and he was out in Arizona… You know, he’s a mature guy. When he shows up, he’s going to be in as good a shape as anybody on the football team.”


I’m gonna go get the papers, get the papers.