Posts Tagged ‘al groh’

Mother Nature

February 7, 2012

During his Signing Day press conference at John Paul Jones Arena officially announcing this year’s football recruiting class, Virginia HC Mike London noted that the list of players included “some height and athleticism. There are some guys where in the end Mother Nature will decide what position they will finally rest at.” 

A historical look at the references to the personification of nature by the last two Cavaliers head men reveals Mother Nature can not only think, work, and control weather, the elements, and human size, but also wreak havoc, talk, and ulatimately, “take over.”

The only question that remains is: can she run a sub-4.4 40?


  • Groh, October 2002: “As that commercial said, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. She’s got a mind of her own. The rehabilitation and healing were not coming along as we originally were told because Mother Nature was going to decide when that leg was ready to play football again.” 
  • Groh, November 2004: “It’s all muscle; it’s all power. Some guys can just take it. There are bigger players that are always hurt. Part of it is just Mother Nature.” 
  • Groh, September 2005: “It’s just a question of Mother Nature right now with all the modern medical help we can give to help Mother Nature along.” 
  • Groh, September 2006: “It’s the outside bone of the foot, which is the farthest away from the blood supply… [It will] be a while yet [and it was really up to] Deyon and Mother Nature to collaborate on this one.” 
  • Groh, October 2007: “Linebacker wasn’t something we were talking about [in recruiting], even though we were pretty sure that Mother Nature would take its course, as it has now.” 
  • Groh, September 2008: “He’s getting multiple treatments a day it’s just a case of how fast is Mother Nature working with him.” 
  • Groh, September 2009: “It’s pretty difficult to do. If we had an appropriate place, we’d probably go inside. But we don’t have that available to us. We have to let Mother Nature do that for us and Mother Nature is not cooperating this week, so we’ll just have to deal with it and adjust to it when we do get there.” 
  • Groh, October 2009: “Most of his high school was at wide receiver and safety, but he was a player with a lot of athletic skill and obviously a lot of height and good versatility that just the way nature usually works we could see was going to grow out of all of those things, Mother Nature lived up to her reputation and fortunately that was the case and he’s gone from being in the lower 200s when we first met him to being in the plus 250s now and obviously bringing that same level of athletic skill.” 
  • London, March 2010: “I don’t think tough at all. I think it’s something he welcomes, because Mother Nature‘s still working on him, and it’s hard sometimes to be a DB and try to keep your weight down when he’s 6-4-plus and you’re starting to lift … I think he welcomes the position. It’s more natural to him being able to run, come off the edge. He’s got safety cover skills as a linebacker, which provides us hopefully with an edge.” 
  • London, July 2010: “The 3-4, if you have the players, the personnel to do it, it is a defense that can work well for you, but in a 4-3 defense you can recruit more linemen and get that big safety in high school who Mother Nature is probably going to put some pounds on and end up being a Will linebacker.” 
  • London, August 2010: “The move with Royal was the fact that Mother Nature was going to say, ‘You know what, you’re not going to be 230 or 245 pounds.’” 
  • London, August 2010: “Mother Nature kind of took over.” 
  • London, December 2010: “If you can recruit some tall, long, athletic guys, that’s what we need. Then Mother Nature will take over. They’ll grow into whatever we need, but you know they’re athletic and can run.” 
  • London, April 2011: “He’s put on a couple of pounds from inactivity. His frame and his size and the way we are lifting [weights] dictates it. We feel that Mother Nature is going to jump on him real, real quick here.” 
  • London, August 2011: “He thought he was a basketball player coming out of Gonzaga, but Mother Nature jumped on him. You take some highlights and splice them together and you’re like, ‘Ooo, whee!’

Rashawn Jackson, Quote Machine

April 21, 2010

Virginia fullback Rashawn Jackson, who is fond of writing “NEW JERU” on his gameday eye black, said before the 2009 season that he wasn’t “concerned that NFL teams have devalued fullbacks because [he was] confident Groh can use his NFL influence to promote [his] versatility.”  This week, he reflected on the “opportunities to showcase that this season, playing H-back and picking up the blitzes, and I think that was beneficial in evaluating my film and seeing they have a complete-package player.”

Jackson, who injured his hamstring, will attend a family barbeque during day three of draft because he is nervous about where he might be selected.  Despite the fact that he’s being projected to go in the 4th round at best, he has lofty goals for his career:

“My whole goal is to get in the league and have people re-think their perspective of what a fullback is.  Things change. Toyotas don’t look the same way they looked in 1992. So I figured, hey, why can’t fullbacks change and do the same? So me and other fullbacks out there can reconstruct the position.”

If you think the Toyota metaphor came out of the blue, you haven’t been listening to Mr. Jackson, who once performed a 360-degree dunk in a profanity-filled pickup game with former Virginia HC Al Groh in attendance.  Back in October, he offered this gem when describing the short-term focus the Cavaliers (then 2-0 in the ACC) had and their unwillingness to look ahead at future games on the schedule:

“When a businessman decides to start a business, he doesn’t automatically get an accountant and start estimating he’ll make upper-end millions or upper-end billions of dollars. You have to start somewhere. You have to have good credit. You have to start with the little things and pay attention to the small details. When you start looking to the future, your goals start to get out of focus and you look past what’s in the present. That’s what really gets you in trouble. We can’t afford to do that.”

Less than a month later, after losing at home to Duke amid boos from a meager crowd, Jackson channeled his inner Bill Parcells… metaphorically speaking:

“You are what you are. When you’re born, your mom either has a boy or a girl, you know? There’s no in between… Of course [there are exceptions], but how many Jamie Lees are there?”

Jackson went on to show compassion for true fans of his 3-5 squad:

“The fans that really stuck out to me were the ones screaming, ‘Rashawn! UVa! Go Hoos!’ Those were the guys that made this loss even worse, since they hung in there. I appreciate those fans, I appreciate that effort and I appreciate those people. They stayed to the end of the game, and I’m just disappointed we couldn’t help their weekend go a little more smoothly. Hopefully they aren’t getting bugged about it at work on Monday. I’m sure some of them might, and that’s even more disappointing.”

On the topic of fans, he also rubbed some the wrong way when he said “Virginia isn’t USC, Michigan, Tennessee or Virginia Tech. The fans here aren’t as patient. It’s just human nature sometimes when things aren’t going well to, you know, I don’t want to say tuck your tail, but just to turn your back.“  During his career at said program with an inpatient fanbase, Jackson:

  • was arrested on felony counts of grand larceny and breaking and entering stemming from dorm break-in and theft of an Xbox 360 (ironic?)
  • coined a new sports cliché: “Our defense is playing well. Offensively we’re not taking advantage of the opportunities we have. I feel like once we tie those knots we’ll be fine.”
  • admitted one of his favorite NFL players growing up was former 49er “Merten Hanks because he was that safety that used to do the headless chicken dance that was so funny”
  • saw the felony charges dropped after over a year in the judicial system
  • used a baseball analogy (a Groh-ism) to describe the at-the-time spread offense: “We may not hit a home run every play, but three plays of four yards gets you a first down. That’s all that matters.”

 Back to the present, and this week Jackson – who DJ’s events with his father back in New Jersey – offered a prediction for the future:

 “I don’t care if I am in the first round or if I’m a free agent. I just think I deserve a shot. I will go into someone’s camp and win a starting job. I play because I love it. I am grateful to be this close to this chance. I understand I won’t be the best player on the field in the NFL. But I know I will be an emotional leader for my team and an important part for my team and for the league. [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell does not know me now — but he will.”

Virginia Coaching Search, Quote-Unquote

December 3, 2009

Mike London

On Monday, the Richmond HC certainly didn’t say he wasn’t interested when asked about the Virginia job:

“It’s an unfortunate situation that just happened up there. It’s a reality of coaching and everything… My focus is on the game [against] Appalachian State. My entire focus is on that. So I’m not going to talk speculations or rumors or anything like that. I’ve got a ballgame to try to prepare for and win. I’d appreciate that any questions or hypothetical scenarios and all that stuff be sensitive to the fact that I’m the head coach of the University of Richmond, and I’m getting ready for Appalachian State.”

He also added, in Groh-like fashion: “The players’ focus, the coaches’ focus and our energies and efforts, that’s what we’re thinking about, and I’ll make sure that happens because I’m the one answering the questions.”

Former Virginia players spoke out on London’s behalf.  One-time QC Kevin McCabe (who didn’t exactly leave Groh’s program on good terms) said “I think the biggest thing that you will see if coach London gets back in there is that his selling point is going to be recruiting… He will go into that house in Florida and pull one or two kids like we used to when I first got here. Like any good coach, you want to surround yourself with good assistants. You want to surround yourself with good people. I think he can do that.”  Now-former DL Nate Collins added “He is a great coach… He has done great things at Richmond… If he does become the coach here, I wish him luck here, and I wish him to carry on his legacy and get it back on track the way that it used to be around here.”

Even Groh-homer and current sideline reporter Chris Slade seemed to be describing London without naming him when he said “I think whoever they bring in is going to be somebody that’s really familiar with the program. I think it’s going to be somebody that’s going to really get out and recruit the Tidewater area. I think that’s an area that Virginia, first of all, needs to become popular in again. You’ll need a guy, I think, that can relate to the players, a guy that’s going to be able to implement his system early, establish discipline and get these guys’ confidence back up. I think because of the lack of success these guys had in the last two years they need to get their confidence back. They need to get somebody in there with a lot of energy that can recruit. That’s the biggest thing right now, because we’ve just been so far behind, particularly in that Tidewater area and then across the state of Virginia.”

In addition, Fork Union HC John Shuman tells the Washington Post “I’m pretty sure if Mike London’s in the loop, [stud OL recruit Morgan Moses will] stay committed. If they pull what they did in basketball [and hire an unknown candidate, Moses might consider other options].”

Jim Grobe

No comments form the Wake HC, but The Daily Press’s David Teel “had no idea Grobe made” $2.17 million, more than all ACC coaches in 2009 not named Bobby Bowden ($2.32 million) or Paul Johnson ($2.3 million).  Across the state, Jerry Ratcliffe pines for Grobe (“a UVa grad, a former football player here, a fraternity guy, Grobe has put together a remarkable resume” & “Grobe is a magical coach and perhaps an even better person”), who he says “ain’t coming.”

Al Golden

A Philadelphia Inquirer piece on Wednesday includes no quotes from the newly-minted MAC COY on Virginia, but says that “Golden didn’t sound like a guy who has his eyes on other opportunities during an interview last week.”  Golden does offer quite the plan for success, however: “I don’t care if you’re GM, Home Depot, IBM, the Flyers, the Phillies, or Temple University, you fight the same battle. You need organization clarity. You need everybody in the organization to know their roles. You need to have motivation to execute those roles. And then you have to do it on a daily basis. That’s the hardest thing to do in the business model, and it’s no different here. Our senior leadership has perpetuated our culture.”

Bob Molinaro of the Virginia-Pilot thinks Golden is “the No. 1 candidate for the job” and at 40, represents “an infusion of youthful exuberance [that] is a must if U.Va. is to break free from its doldrums.”  The younger AG is “considered to be one of the best recruiters in the East” and Molinaro wonders if “maybe a brighter future begins by seizing on a Golden opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Ratcliffe (who admits he was wrong last week: “it appears that the mysterious rumor about UVa luring Chris Petersen away from Boise State was either a pipe dream or just misinformation”) says “some of [Golden’s] closest friends say he’s not looking,” so take that for what it’s worth.

Jimmy Laycock

The William & Mary head man – who beat Virginia earlier this season – was quoted by the Daily Press as saying “you never say never,” which Teel translates as “if Virginia called, he’d listen.”  However, the columnist points out that “at 61, he’s older than the prototypical candidate, and he hasn’t recruited at a major-conference program since 1979, the last of his three seasons as Clemson’s offensive coordinator.”

Derek Dooley

The Louisiana Tech AD & HC seemed to be throwing in the towel when he said on Monday “I don’t know if there is much of a market out there for a three-win coach.  All that stuff is just someone throwing a guy’s name in the paper. I would rather not talk about that.”

Skip Holtz

The ECU HC also appears to be out of the running per Terry Holland, via Doug Doughty.

Groh Set to Make National Headlines?

November 27, 2009

On Monday, CNBC Sports Business Reporter and former competitive watermelon-seed-spitter Darren Rovell discussed the potential $4+ million buyout package that may coming the way of Notre Dame HC Charlie Weis this season.  Rovell also too a “a look at some of the biggest buyouts reportedly paid out by schools to coaches:

-Denny Crum, Louisville, $7 million

-Phil Fulmer, Tennessee, $6 million

-Tommy Tuberville, Auburn, $5.1 million

-Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M, $4.4 million

-Tommy Bowden, Clemson, $3.5 million

-Bill Callahan, Nebraska, $3.1 million”

Al Groh appears a lock to join that list, as The Roanoke Times has reported that “it would cost Virginia more than $4 million to pay Groh for the two years that remain on the contract.”

Chris Petersen Keeps The Media Busy

November 27, 2009

On what is usually a slow news week, Charlottesville’s Daily Progress set off a minor-firestorm Thanksgiving with an article entitled “Petersen to coach Cavs?”  In said piece, columnist Jerry Ratcliffe and co-writer Jay Jenkins reported that:

  • it “appears that Boise State coach Chris Petersen is the leading candidate to become Virginia’s next head football coach”
  • Petersen “reportedly been frustrated the past couple of years with the salaries of his assistant coaches and has unsuccessfully campaigned his athletic director and the Western Athletic Conference office to improve those wages. ‘If Chris Petersen were to leave Boise State, that would be one of, if not the major reason for his exit,’ said one source in Boise on Wednesday.”
  • “Petersen earns a salary of $850,000 annually, a figure that would likely be doubled in order to lure him to Virginia.”
  • “Another factor working in UVa’s favor is associate senior athletic director Jon Oliver, a Boise State graduate, who was in Boise for the Broncos’ season-opening win over Oregon in early September. While Oliver played basketball at Boise State, he was in Boise for the football reunion weekend. According to sources, Oliver and Petersen have been good friends for years.”

Within hours, Idaho Statesman columnist Brian Murphy attempted to separate fact from fiction on his blog and pointed out that:

  • Petersen’s base salary for 2009 is actually $1.1 million, and he will earn between a 5-19% raise and up to $237k in bonuses based on performance
  • “Petersen’s buyout drops by $200,000 to $550,000 after the Broncos’ bowl game this year,” and “expires after the 2010 bowl game, which could push Boise State to re-negotiate this offseason.”
  • “Boise State’s assistants are the highest-paid among any team in a conference that does not have an automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series.”
  • The assistants make more than some BCS schools, including Colorado, Cal, and yes, Virginia.  “Boise State’s total package for all assistants is $1.57 million. According to USA Today database of coaches’ salaries, Virginia’s assistants earn a total of $1.55 million.”
  • “Petersen spent one season as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh and has said the experience of being on the East Coast felt foreign. The rest of his coaching experience is in the West, mostly in the Northwest.”

Later in the day, Ratcliffe’s weekly ACC column scattershot the following “while noting that Boise-area media have already gone on the defensive”:

  • “It has been pointed out by Boise media that we had Petersen’s salary wrong. True.”
  • Virginia’s collective assistant coach salary total is “”skewed because special teams coordinator Ron Prince unselfishly took a much lower salary than he could have demanded” and “the Cavaliers are essentially paying for only one coordinator because Groh serves as defensive coordinator.”
  • “Perhaps the most important factor in the entire story was completely ignored: Jon Oliver, UVa’s executive associate director of athletics… we received some bad information that Oliver and Petersen were friends.”

As Oliver told noted media gadfly Jeff White of “Although I’m a huge fan of Boise State football, I’ve never met Chris Petersen.”

Al Groh, Miami, and White Lines

November 12, 2009

A great deal has changed since November 10, 2007, when the Virginia embarrassed Miami 48-0 in their final home game at the Orange Bowl.  Two years later, Miami is the ranked team with only two losses after delivering the beat-down in south Florida.  Virginia was the team held to under 100 yards passing on a balmy day in early November.  Chris Long and Nate Lyles replaced Dwayne Johnson, Bernie Kosar, Andre Johnson, Gino Torretta, Michael Irvin as former players on the sidelines. 

One thing that hasn’t changed… the use of football clichés in comments made to the media by HC Al Groh and the men he has surrounded himself with.  Circumstantially speaking, at least.

After thrashing the Hurricanes in their Orange Bowl goodbye, Groh said “It was a very dynamic atmosphere, but we really didn’t pay it much heed.  We knew that the only thing that was going to determine the outcome was what happened in between the white lines.”

It’s a cliché those following Groh and his team have become accustomed to hearing.  Back in 2002, Groh stated “that other business is just conversation. What happens between the white lines is all that matters.”  That same season, DP columnist and noted Groh-apologist Jerry Ratcliffe wrote in a piece entitled “Groh Gets Award, and He Deserves It” that “the only thing that mattered, [Groh] said time and again, is what happens out there between the white lines. All the other stuff is the reason we have sportswriters.”

Back to the present, and this month we’ve heard the cliché from both Groh (“We have a saying… that it’s all between the white lines.  That’s all that really counts… It’s just whatever happens in between the white lines that determines the outcome of the game.”) and LB John-Kevin Dolce (“Our house is in the white lines. We play football inside the white lines. We don’t play for our fans necessarily in the aspect that we’re going out there. They don’t sweat with us, they don’t bleed with us and they don’t cry with us.”).

Just a year ago, QB Marc Verica dropped it twice in the month of October alone:

  • “What it comes down to is what’s going to happen between the white lines on Saturday. It’s a long streak, but [UNC is] a really good football team right now. I think we’re capable of being a really good team.”
  • “Our approach is really that we’re moving the white lines. We’re not thinking that we’re playing at Georgia Tech. It’s really what happens between the white lines that matters.”

In 2004, it was uttered by several players:

  • DE Chris Canty (July): “[Elton Brown] hits people with bad intentions, very bad intentions. He’s a great guy off the field. But all football players have that little switch that clicks on when you step across those white lines.”
  • TE Heath Miller (November): “I think it’s definitely harder to play on the road, but Coach Groh always tells us that what happens between the white lines is all that matters.”
  • QB Marques Hagans (November): “[Maryland] might have [bad feelings] against us, but none of that really matters. You still got to play a game within the white lines for 60 minutes.”

Recent years have not been immune:

  • CB Marcus Hamilton (October 2006): “It’s going to be a tough task. Our mentality is no matter where you play. It’s just football inside the white lines.”
  • LB Jon Copper (September 2007): “I’m not sure there’s a whole lot else you can do. Coach Groh has emphasized that wherever the white lines are, we need to be able to perform.”
  • QB Matt Schaub (September 2007): “You look at the great players and that’s one thing they all have in common, that when they step out between the white lines they become a kid and have a lot of fun.”
  • QB Peter Lalich (September 2007): “Our house is between the white lines.”
  • Copper (November 2007): “Ultimately, what matters is if we block the right guys, run our defenses correctly and execute on special teams. Ultimately, what matters is what goes on inside the white lines.”
  • TE John Phillips (August 2008): “Football is all about Saturday. Anything can happen between the white lines.”
  • Schaub (September 2008): “When we get between these white lines and in those meeting rooms, we just have to focus all we can on what it takes to be successful this week and in this game. And once we leave here, we can start thinking about those other things and what it takes to get our families and everything in order.”

Former LB Clint Sintim used the cliché publicly twice while at Virginia, and has already used it once since:

  • September 2008: “I guess we just have that attitude, ‘Our house is anywhere inside the white lines.’ It doesn’t really matter where you play. It is the same field everywhere you go.”
  • October 2008: “I think we have to come in with the mentality that our house is anywhere inside the white lines.”
  • February 2009: “You come out on the field, you’re a competitor, you step out there between the white lines, and you want to feel as though you’re the best player out there.”

It may have also become a verbal crutch for former DC and current Richmond HC DC Mike London:

  • September 2008: “It will be different, but whether it’s 10,000 or 60,000, if you’re concentrating on the task at hand, all that matters is what goes on between the white lines. We have a 100-yard field at UR Stadium. Elon had a 100-yard field. [Virginia] will have a 100-yard field.”
  • September 2008: “When we first started out we knew we were going to be ranked high. The guys understand what we do between the white lines is what matters.”
  • September 2008: “Our approach is going to be the same way it’s always been and let everything outside the white lines take care of itself.”
  • December 2008: “It is no different as any other game when we are preparing. We need to keep our emotions in check. We don’t want to get distracted with the atmosphere and we want to focus on what is happening between the white lines.”
  • August 2009: “What we talk about all the time is what happens between the white lines, so regardless of girlfriends, parents, noise, quiet, whatever it is, when it’s time to execute the plays on the field, that’s all that matters.”
  • Richmond LB Eric McBride (September 2009): “Like coach London says, ‘It’s what happens between the white lines.’ I think our whole team believes that, buys into that.”

And to bring it full circle, yesday’s Cavalier Daily even includes the cliché in its sports story on BC LB Mark Herzlich, whose fight against Ewing’s sarcoma “serves as a reminder that life extends far beyond a field’s white lines.”

Apologies go out to Grandmater Melle Mel, Duran Duran, and Shooter Jenings

Al Groh: The Man, The Myth, The Jeezy

October 23, 2009

This week alone, Virginia HC Al Groh has:

LB and team captain Denzel Burrell: “We call him ‘Jeezy’ after the rapper, ‘Young Jeezy.’ “I believe he actually does understand the reference. He references hip-hop at times. He knows Kanye West and a couple of the other guys we really like. He actually may know the reference, but that’s basically one of the main ones we call him. But we’ll probably stay away from Mr. October.”

“Normally, they put multiple hats in the locker room. One got wet, so I put on the other one.”  Burrell added: “I’ve never questioned his hat choice.”

  • Dropped “circumstance” once after the win at Maryland

That was a magnificent effort by our players,” Groh said. “They dealt with everything that we encountered today, whether it was guys having to step up [for] circumstances within the ballgame. They refused to be distracted by any issues.”

  • And ten (10) times in his weekly press conference

“we were the beneficiaries of some turnovers during the course of the game that clearly helped us out in some circumstances

“we are very comfortable with [backup QB Marc Verica] in any circumstance

“whether we change it or not, we assess just what are our circumstances

“we have a little bit of that circumstance on our hands right now”

“guys who play, they ought to be moving into more established circumstance; those guys who haven’t, hopefully they’ll move into a circumstance where they can go in the game”

“I guess there was one circumstance where they were willing walk him and to load the bases”

“there was a circumstance that characterized what was the ‘07 team”

“in circumstances where you have that collaborative attitude, or as it’s sometimes referred to as team chemistry or unity or whatever, there’s always a leadership-followership circumstance”  

  • Offered an opinion on the leg strength of 5-10 PK (field goals only) and seersucker fan Robert Randolph:

“You can look at him – there’s not a lot of muscle mass there. Let’s put it this way: They probably don’t make those yellow suits in big-man sizes.”

“The week that precedes the game, the word practice is certainly accurate, but it’s not just practice like going and practicing the piano. It’s preparation for what’s coming on Saturday. So we’re trying to do whatever has us best prepared on Saturday. That might mean scrimmage every day. That might mean go bowling. I’m not trying to be smart, but whatever… Practice and preparation is part of every week, but also obviously practice, development of skills. That’s what players are supposed to do, and that’s what coaches are supposed to do for their players.”

“If I knew [the status of injured QB Jameel Sewell], I probably wouldn’t tell you.”

  •  Said ‘fumblers get benched’ in forty-four (44) words…  [subtle dig at MJ]

“There are some players here in the past that have displayed a significant running skill but we couldn’t afford to play Russian roulette with. We just couldn’t afford to put them out there where they could do something that might cause us to lose.” 

  • Broke down Georgia Tech’s punt (yes punt, not triple-option offensive) formations

“We’ve spoken frequently with the development of really – I would say if I use the word alternative punt systems, that would be incorrect. Innovative and progressing punt systems. In other words, it’s a new era in terms of punting the ball. And it continues to grow that way, just as with many of the different offenses. Let’s say a few years ago when different elements of, A, the West Coast offense came up, it was one offense. Now there’s all sorts of things that fall into that category. We saw the spread offense; that was an offense. Everybody did the same thing that was in it. Now it’s really inaccurate to try to classify something just based on being a spread offense or a West Coast offense. It’s the same thing here now with that shield punt. It’s inaccurate just to say they’re in a shield punt. It can go so many different directions based on the personality and the philosophy of the team, and they have been very creative and progressive with what they’re doing with formations, and as a result of what they’re doing they have a very good idea how to deal with it on the other side. So it’s not just the punt team but things they’re doing with their punt return and punt block teams to combat those other teams that have it. They have some answers to those situations while other people are still searching for them.” 

  • Continued his lecture on roster math

After saying last week that “essentially 25 percent of your team is new every year anyway,” Groh offered this a week later: “In college football, 50 percent of your team is freshmen and sophomores.” 

  • Played jokester in explaining P Jimmy Howell’s -3-yard punt against Maryland

“Far be it from me to try and explain. It was our intention that he was going to punt the ball. Obviously, he saw some sort of aliens out there that none of us could see.” 

  • Revealed the layout and ‘inventory’ of a national book retailer

“You look at military leaders or industrial leaders or for that matter parents, and certainly football coaches, people who try and lead, they’ve got to believe, they’ve got to believe in a leader, they’ve got to buy in, they’ve got to see the value to them. That’s why if you go down to Barnes & Noble, you can probably spend the next three or four weeks just walking up and down the section of the stores that have books on leadership and management.” 

  • Played short-memory philosopher

“As we have said, there’s a reason why God put eyes in the front of our head and not in the back. So you can make progress by looking forward.”

Al Groh Drinking Game, Revisited

October 16, 2009

It has certainly been an exciting October for all the Al Groh Drinking Game players out there.

A quick recap of the Al Groh Drinking Game rules:

  1. Take two drinks any time Coach Al drop’s his favorite word – ‘circumstance
  2. Finish said drink if the word is used multiple times in a single response
  3. Take a single drink if you hear either his second-favorite (‘resolve’) or third-favorite (‘resilient’) word
  4. Finish two drinks if ‘circumstance’  is used in the same sentence with either ‘resolve’ or ‘resilient
  5. Finish three drinks if the ‘circumstanceresolveresilient‘ verbal trifecta is hit


In Monday’s presser alone, Coach Al spurred AG/DG players to follow rule #1 six times:

  1. In breaking down the math behind college football rosters for the media: “Essentially 25 percent of your team is new every year anyway, so I think it’s a standard thing. It’s part of the life circumstance of college athletics.”
  2. In describing the current state of the offense as part-Mike Groh, part-Gregg Brandon: “I would say there is probably a good blend of the two circumstances right now.”
  3. In explaining the strategy behind PR Chase Minnifield never calling for a fair catch: “It’s not a question of Laissez-faire coaching but it’s not micromanaging the circumstance and allowing a player to use his skills.”
  4. In discussing Stafford native and Maryland standout Torrey Smith: “He’s – regardless of what the circumstance was in the past he’s a superior college football player.”
  5. In dismissing the impact of prior success against the Terps: “I think we feel positive about ourselves in those circumstances [but] I think it’s unlikely that any of us feel that previous games with Maryland have any bearing on how this game is going to go.”
  6. In spinning a yarn about the importance of completion percentage: “We’re in that circumstance and the teams that are scoring in our league are teams that either have high-talent quarterbacks or kids who have been in the system for a long time and have developed their skills and got the reads and know where to go with the ball and they’re proficient in their accuracy and that’s what produces points.”

This comes one week after Groh dropped his favorite word in last week’s presser five times:

  1. In pondering one of the thousands of what-if’s surrounding his favorite player: “You know, Vic — if it weren’t for the few – a couple of circumstances had gone a little differently, Vic would have caught a pass, thrown a pass, run the ball, had a sack and played on special teams. He was – on one of our pressures, he was the first one there, a sack eventually went to Nate Collins. He had a pass called back because of a penalty. He had his catch, I believe, and if one of the passes were thrown better he would have had two.
  2. In explaining the difference between a win and a loss in teaching football: “We now have graphic examples – the players have graphic examples just this season of how the result can be dramatically different as a result of those two circumstances. Do a real good job with it and you have a real good chance of a happy result. Don’t do such a good job with it and no matter how well you run your plays or run your coverages, you get the other result.”
  3. In discussing the psychology of booing: “The interesting thing is the psychology of that, if anybody believes that that helps anybody play any better – now if it makes thousands of people feel good, then I guess that’s good for thousands of people but what they want is for their team to play better, it doesn’t necessarily – I haven’t ever been around a circumstance where players were saying, sounds like they’re getting on us, so let’s play better!”
  4. In relaying how Brandon Woods handled being benched last year: “Very admirably… obviously that’s challenging circumstances for a player.”
  5. In using more words than necessary to avoid saying ‘academic suspension’: “We understand there might be mitigating factors in there that in some cases we would have preferred not to be there but that was the reality of it and one of the things we believe in is reality as opposed to fantasy, it was a reality with some of those circumstances.”

And four weeks after Groh dropped it nine times on the Monday after the TCU loss.  Yes, nine:

  1. In reflecting on previous seasons’ turnarounds: “We have looked back at some of those circumstances… along the way in each particular case, there’s been some circumstances where just strategically and tactically we might have said, look, we are going to reshape things a little bit here at this particular time.  So there’s been elements of all of those.  Certainly not the same percentage to each particular circumstance
  2. In relaying the background behind scheduling TCU: “We were looking at a number of circumstances to fill, because I think as we have detailed, we had made an arrangement with the MAC conference.”
  3. In a long-winded response to a question about distractions facing the team: “Sometimes if you just — in a circumstance where all of the chips get loaded in front of to you start with, you have to shuffle them around a little bit to get things back to the way you want them to be.”
  4. In breaking down the impact of time of possession: “That also resulted in more plays for their team, greater time of possession and the result that we got.  So clearly we can see how one circumstance dramatically affected the conduct of the game.”
  5. In repeating a team mantra: “We have a saying… that it’s all between the white lines.  That’s all that really counts.  Except in a few memorable circumstances, there’s not much history of anybody coming off the sidelines, much less out of the stands, to impact any particular play.”
  6. In explaining 3rd-and-long strategy in FG territory: “We had a third down and eight situation beforehand which doesn’t mean we don’t want to make the first down, but in those circumstances, a lot of times, first time down the field, it’s common for a lot of teams to say, at the very least, we want to protect the field goal.”
  7. In making an excuse (or perhaps not) for Ras-I-Dowling: ”There haven’t been very many balls up the field on him… It’s going to be difficult for any guy to get a lot of picks on that circumstance.  But there have been some plays up the field that you know, I’m sure he would like to change, and then we are working with him to try to do that.”


*Social networking note: The above apply Groh’s actual Twitter feed (“what you can do for our team is react to every circumstance in the game with positive energy”), but not that of any imposter (“This afternoon we’re pracitcing the tip drill. We go to Applebees and I show them how to never leave more than 10% under any circumstances”).

Groh’s Got Talent?

September 9, 2009

For all the talk of Virginia HC Al Groh’s ability to recruit, develop, and ultimately send talent to the next level, has he really improved the talent in the program?

Many certainly think so, and often argue that Groh has been unable to translate the higher talent level into victories.  This generally is and has been the criticism of the HC from afar, with the sound-bite laden argument contrasting NFL draft picks with regular- & post-season mediocrity.

Bloggers have posted that:

But it’s not just the blogosphere…  Media ‘experts’ agree:

Even Groh himself has said “I think the talent base has improved.  It’s solidified.  That was my first objective, to get the talent base at a level that would improve the play-making skill of the team. That is the key thing.”

I was driven to take a closer look when I saw Southern Pigskin’s recent “Perfect Ten” of Virginia’s top players since 1975:

  1. Thomas Jones, RB (1996-1999)
  2. Chris Slade, DE (1989-1992)
  3. Jim Dombrowski, OT (1982-1985)
  4. Tiki Barber, RB (1993-1996)
  5. Ronde Barber, CB (1993-1996)
  6. Herman Moore, WR (1987-1990)
  7. Chris Long, DE (2004-2007)
  8. Anthony Poindexter, S (1995-1998)
  9. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (2002-2005)
  10. Heath Miller, TE (2002-2005)

Only three – Long, Ferguson & Miller – were coached by Groh, and Miller was actually recruited by his predecessor, George Welsh.  Welsh had a much longer tenure (to date), but still has much more of the list even if you remove Slade, Dombrowski, and Moore.  Not to mention other Welsh players like Ray Roberts, Shawn Moore, Terry Kirby, James Farrior, Jeff Lageman, etc. who probably have a case to be in the Top 10.  But that’s another subject for another day…

From 2002-2009, 27 Virginia players were selected in the NFL draft – an average of 3.4 per year in drafts after seasons in which Groh was the HC, including five first-rounder’s.  In the prior eight drafts, 25 Welsh-coached players were selected (including four first-rounder’s) for an average of 3.1 per year.  Groh may get a slight edge here, but consider that eight of the 27 (Antwoine Womack, Monsanto Pope, Chris Luzar, Billy McMullen, Angelo Crowell, Matt Schaub, Andrew Hoffman, Chris Canty) were on Welsh’s former team, and at least six others (Marques Hagans, Elton Brown, Alvin Pearman, Heath Miller, Pat Estes, Darryl Blackstock) were recruited to some degree by Welsh before he retired.

In the final five drafts after Welsh seasons, 3.8 players were taken each year, including six in both 1997 and 1999.  Over that five-year span, there were seven 1st or 2nd round selections, more than in all eight of the drafts following Groh-led seasons (6).  And that doesn’t even include some of Welsh’s best players – Slade (round 2), Dombrowski (1), Kirby (3), Roberts (1), Blundin (2), Herman Moore (1), Lageman (1), and John Ford (2).

Groh has coached 17 first-team all-ACC players, including a high of five in 2004, for a per-year average of 2.1.  In Welsh’s final 8 seasons he averaged 3.9.  Granted, the conference has been bigger of late (additions of Miami, BC, and VPI since Welsh’s retirement), but this one is still no comparison.  During the aforementioned span, Welsh put 3+ players on the first-team in five of the eight years, including seven in 1998, and six each in 1995 & 1996.  Groh saw five players on the 2004 first-team, but had 3 or fewer in every other year.

The Al Groh Drinking Game

November 7, 2008

After your recently-concluded ballgame, turn on the postgame radio show, and get your favorite beverage ready for coach Groh’s press conference.  Also can be modified for the coach’s weekly teleconference with ACC reporters, the Cavalier Call-In radio show, and the “Cavalier Sports Weekly” television program.


The rules for this version of the AG/DG are quite simple (other variations will be addressed at a later time in this space):


  1. Take two drinks any time Coach Al drop’s his favorite word – ‘circumstance’
  2. Finish said drink if the word is used multiple times in a single response
  3. Take a single drink if you hear either his second-favorite (‘resolve’) or third-favorite (‘resilient’) word
  4. Finish two drinks if ‘circumstance’ is used in the same sentence with either ‘resolve’ or ‘resilient’
  5. Finish three drinks if the ‘circumstance-resolve-resilient verbal trifecta is hit


Note that variations of each word do count, so keep an ear out for ‘circumstantial,’ ‘resiliency,’ and ‘resolvitdue.’  Any doubts about ‘circumstance’ being the top seed in Groh’s lexicon have been completely put to rest of late.  Just last week alone, Groh:


  • Described his hands-on approach to coaching linebackers, specifically Clint Sintim: “In his particular case because of the position he plays and the amount of years that I have spent involved with the position, I’ve had the opportunity to really have more day-to-day and nuts-and-bolts work with him on his play at the position, maybe than say (if) he was playing wide receiver or offensive tackle or something like that. We’ve spent a lot of time together during the course of his career, probably more so than is the case in many circumstances for the head coach to be able to do.”
  • Talked of preparing for a game during a win streak: “Anytime that your team is able to prepare from a foundation of confidence is a more advantageous circumstance and confidence only comes from demonstrated performance.”
  • Explained some of the reasons behind his team’s turnaround: “The players had a strong resolve… They had faith in each other. They understood the circumstances that were affecting our team early, that those circumstances wouldn’t be constant, and they just had the resolve. They kept believing that it’s going to be better than this.”
  • Gave un update on accused felon but still-participating FB Rashawn Jackson: “We’re comfortable just in terms of his performance, his state of mind, and his circumstances.  I guess I would say we believe in America and everything that goes on in America, and one of those things is everybody’s innocent until proven guilty.  We also believe in accountability and justice, and we’re sure that in the long run all those things will out. He seems to be very comfortable and confident with his circumstances.”


Following Saturday’s home loss to Miami, AG:


  • Commented on the 12-yard sack Marc Verica took on 3rd-and-2 from the Miami 27 to knock his offense out of FG range: “You’d like to say, ‘Look, if there’s any circumstance in the game, you can’t take the sack in that circumstance,’” Groh said. “But we’re sure that under the circumstances in which it happened, it will leave an indelible mark on Marc.”
  • Talked about bouncing back: “If you want to think of yourself as resilient, then obviously that has to be under all circumstances. It can’t just be when it’s easy.  Resilience is established over a period of time, and there’s a lot of guys on this team that have proved their resilience over the course of their career, and so we’re confident it’ll continue to be that way.”
  • Was channeled by NT Nate Collins, who “never want[s] to lose a game like that under those circumstances. You want to feel like you got beat fair and square, but we let that game go ourselves.”


A few other recent Groh nuggets that would have had AG/GC players reaching for their drinks:


  • Prior to the Maryland game, on going from one level of football to the next: “They just have to be able to grow into that, but they’re doing it the right way for the way they’re playing. Now they are going to just have to learn how to do it the right way. I’m sure it’s the same thing for Branden Albert, and Chris Long, and Tom Santi …that now they’re having to respect the game and do the right things on an 8- or 9-hour a day basis, instead of four hours a day. They have got to grow into that circumstance, also.
  • Prior to the ECU game, on the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (which has produced NT Nick Jenkins, LB Cam Johnson, and DB Rodney McLeod): “We’ve always been very, very aware of the overall circumstance of those schools. The quality of play, excellent academics, the sense of discipline. We’re very tuned into them for quite some time. The overall circumstances worked out well of late.”
  • Prior to the UNC game, on Carolina’s offense: “The plays usually end up repeating pretty much from week to week, but the pre-snap looks change so one of the critical things to do in that circumstance is, from our playing standpoint, [is to] try to keep it uncomplicated for the players.”
  • This week – prior to the Wake game – on his redshirting philosophy: “Unless a guy is going to play 25 or 30 plays [each game] and be a standout, we would prefer to [redshirt him]. Usually the fifth year’s going to be more productive than the first. But sometimes there are just some circumstances where the team needs the player that year, even though it’s not going to be in the biggest possible role.”


And don’t for a minute think this is a new phenomenon or the result of recent media-relations or public-speaking schooling undergone by the head man.  Examples can be cited throughout the years:


  • August 2002: “I think it’s always better to have the position as definitive as possible. In years back, it was easier [to platoon quarterbacks]. Now that type of circumstance becomes such a media subject and the spotlight of the team that, even if the players are comfortable with it, it gets brought up so much that it becomes [a distraction.].”
  • August 2003: “This was a good indication that this team has the same type of resiliency and resolve that last year’s team did.”
  • November 2003: “They showed the same kind of resolve to fight back as they have in all sorts of circumstances. Once again, we just made it too hard on ourselves.”
  • September 2006: “That was a terrific job by the defense. Those guys were resilient, resourceful and hung in there under every circumstance.”
  • October 2006: “Today we had to go out there every series knowing the game was on the line. I was impressed with their competitive resolve under those circumstances.”
  • September 2007: “We’ve had some struggles here of late and we haven’t found ourselves in a circumstance like that in a long time. We were certainly in new territory, but this team has demonstrated a strong resolve and focus throughout.”
  • February 2008: “Each year brings its own set of circumstances in terms of talent available at the positions we’re looking for, or the academic circumstances.”