With a 3-7 record, the future doesn’t look bright for Virginia coach Al Groh. The Cavaliers have lost four straight games, and head into another uphill battle on Saturday in Death Valley. Virginia has won one home game all year, against Indiana, and fans have had little to cheer for, as this will be the second straight bowl-less season for the program.
So it’s time to look ahead.
There’s no reason Virginia can’t be a successful football program again. Charlottesville is an attractive location, Virginia is a beautiful campus, and the state is a hotbed for some of the nation’s best recruits. All it needs is the right man for the job. I’ve got three who are great recruiters, have rebuilt programs, and have ties to Charlottesville.
Here are my top three suggestions for athletic director Craig Littlepage:
1. Temple coach Al Golden. Not only is he the perfect fit because of his history with Virginia, but if you can win at Temple, you should certainly be able to win at Virginia. The 8-2 Owls are leading the MAC and have made a dramatic turnaround under Golden, who was defensive coordinator at Virginia for five seasons prior to taking over Temple in December 2005. The 16 seniors on Temple’s current roster were 1-11 as freshmen, and are now bowl eligible for the first time since 1990. Both Golden and his wife, Kelly, received degrees from Virginia.
2. Richmond coach Mike London. Virginia’s former defensive coordinator led the Spiders to their first-ever FCS national championship last year. He’s familiar with the ACC, as he was also defensive line coach at Boston College from 1997-2000, and he knows the recruiting areas in Virginia as well as he does his own living room. His contract runs through the 2014 season. London has seven children, including his daughter, Kristen, who is a senior on Virginia’s women’s basketball team. His younger brother, Paul, was a defensive back at Virginia from 1991-95.
3. Liberty coach Danny Rocco. Rocco inherited a program that was 1-10 when he was hired in 2005. He improved Liberty to 6-5 the following year and earned the title of Big South coach of the year. Last year, the Flames repeated as Big South champs, and ended with the program’s first 10-win season. And Rocco did it using the 3-4 defense he learned in five seasons under Groh at Virginia and with the New York Jets in 2000. He also played at Wake Forest for two seasons under Groh, and coached the defensive line at BC from 1991-93.