October 28, 2013

Fun Debate...

...yesterday's "How to Feel" post triggered.

I'd like to tap into that spirit of conversation and ask for more comments on a few topics.

1) What about you?  Are YOU going to the Clemson game?  Why or why not?

2) Do you think there's still hope that Mike London can turn it around at UVA?

3) If you're in the "Fire London" camp, what would it take for him to win you back?

4) If you're in the "Keep London" camp, when does your patience and understanding end?

5) In a general sense of the word, what does it mean for Virginia Football to be successful?  How close or far away are we from being successful?

6) What can we - as fans - really do to communicate our dissatisfaction over the product on the field, beyond refusing to buy tickets and attend games?  To what end are you willing to go in order to communicate your own dissatisfaction?

7) Let's say we do in fact finish at 2-10, yet London is retained due to the size of of the buyout.  What does the 2014 season look like?

Go ahead, guys!  Fire up those comments and let 'em rip!  I'll cull out the more interesting thoughts for a full-length blog post.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!  And thanks as always for visiting the blog!


  1. 1. Yes, because it's the Hoos. I go pretty much win or lose, if I can.

    2/4. Yes, absolutely. And not just in the sense that "anything can happen". I wasn't expecting to go 2-10 this year, as it looks like we may, but coming off of the 2011 season, I knew we would have a couple of rough seasons before things started to come back on track. Some of the things he's done people are down on, I don't agree with. Like the timeout thing at Tech last year. I think he said, we have to go into the wind with Rocco's arm, they ignored a blatant pass interference on Tim Smith, what's more likely to win the game; ice the kicker/block the field goal and send it into overtime, or punch through that 30mph wind with Rocco, who has to float it past 15-20 yards? Or the Duke game, where he seemed to be content to let the clock melt at the half, and then tried to get Phillip Sims to throw a home run downfield. That reminds me of what Matt Stafford did yesterday in Detroit, though his gambit worked thanks to the Dallas d-line being completely oblivious. If those things had worked, then he'd have been hailed as a genius.

    Other stuff, like the offensive line being in complete shambles thanks to career-ending injuries, etc. I'm not saying he's blameless, and I'm certainly disappointed, but it wasn't unexpected.

    5. Success is winning seasons and growing boys into men and Wahoos both. I have no aspirations for being Alabama or winning a national championship in football. If we had the resources to do that (a magic billionaire donates eleventy million dollars) I wouldn't be akin to it unless we funded AccessUVA at 110%, we made a condition of being on the football team X hours of community service, etc, and that the focus was still on the players and the school as a whole, real academic success (instead of How Not To Beat Up Your Girlfriend 101 at Alabama/North Carolina).

    Hopefully next season is the start of the road up. I had 2014 eyed for awhile. That was the do-or-die year from the get-go.

    6. They already get it. There was a commercial on last night during the Packers/Vikings game that was from Virginia Sports begging fans to come- "What a difference a fan makes". They read blogs like this- even the players do, I know it for a fact. They get it. You write things like this, they read it- you'd be surprised how many. I'll bet you didn't expect so many people to read your blog and respond to that last post.

    7. I don't know. This is why I say I'm more angry at Jon Oliver than anyone. I get wanting to avoid scheduling cupcakes ala Virginia Tech's rise to success, but, damn.

  2. I'm going to talk about question 6. Now this may not apply to you kendall because you are not coming to the game because you are frustrated with this season. But lets be honest about most of our fans, they have not shown up for games for the last 4 or 5 years. Even when we won 8 games 2 years ago, our attendance was down. So while there are many fans saying that they are upset with London, the bottom line is there has been a lack of fan support going back to the end of the Al Groh era. If you are unhappy with the product on the field, then write a letter to the administration or something like that. But don't create more public negativity around the program because that's not good for the current coaches and it is not good if you want to attract a big time coach for the future. When you are upset with the program you just have to be smart in your actions. Don't allow your need to express your frustration get in the way of what's best for the program.

    1. Thanks Darryl!

      I'm just skipping one game. I'll be there for the Virginia Tech game. We need as many Wahoos in there as we can find for that one.

  3. I would answer question 5 like this. Success would be becoming a bowl team every year. But I believe that in time we can become a legitimate top 10 team. Stanford went from horrible to top ten in the matter of about 5 years. We can do the same. Remember, that during the George welsh era we were actually ranked number 1 in the country in 1990. So it can happen here at uva. I think mike London is the coach that can make it happen. We have to be real about where we are right now. We are a young team (only 8 seniors), We have three new systems this year, and we are playing a tough schedule. These are not excuses these are facts. I see improvement in each game. We are not getting blown out by anyone. We've had a chance to win every game except for Oregon. This team just need's time to learn how to win. We have a great coaching staff, now we just have to give them time (more than 8 games). If we keep this staff for a while good things will happen. In my opinion, if we fire London it will destroy our program. A new coach will need 5 or 6 years to get program back to being good. And lets face, Uva fans don't have that kind of patience. Fans were ready to fire London after just 3 years.

    1. 6-7-8 wins and a bowl appearance every year, with an allowance for a dip to 4 wins or so every four or five years is my baseline for success at UVA.

      I agree that becoming a top-10 program ala Stanford is possible... but very unlikely at UVA. Just get good enough to win 6+ games a year, every year, and maybe we'll find a way to climb higher. First things first: beat Duke at home, and stop losing to mid-majors from the WAC and MAC.

  4. With regards to the idea of firing London, I see both positive and negatives. That said, what I do see is that when a program gets into trouble, often it is a knee jerk reaction of armchair QBs everywhere to fire the head coach as the ONLY solution.

    Positives: He recruits. Keeping London may keep several top recruits in this class. He is a good representative of the university (remember Groh?). Kids seem to respond to him, and he seems to attract high quality kids to his program.

    London problems: The problem is in his X and Os. He does not seem able to call his own plays or set his own effective offensive system, and his ability to manage the game has been poor.

    His management of playing time (especially redshirting) has been incredibly shortsighted and amateurish (for instance, imagine players like Corney, Severin, Gamble, Olaj) and others not wasting years on several plays. OB hasn't helped this tendency at all.

    I think UVA made several mistakes this past off-season, but the worst was on offense. OBrien and Fairchild hires were not warranted. OB was a nostalgia hire for the Welsh years, popular because of familiarity of older fans and alumni. Even worse, the OBrien hire (and its loud proponents like J Ratcliffe) never seem to account for the fact that almost any OC in college could be successful with Ryan and Wilson as their qbs. Obrien has done nothing to help game management or poor playing time decisions (redshirting). He hasn't helped the offense. He is not known for recruiting (and look at the difference in our offensive and defensive recruiting this year).

    The other was a poor decision was hiring Fairchild. Most fans seemed excited when Fairchild was hired. Why? Fairchild has several problems in has last two stops. Lack of imaginative playcalling. Poor qb development. Inability to make defense cover most of the field (which often gets misdiagnosed as poor OL play). His style of playcalling puts a lot of pressure on OL and QB, and it hasn't produced. Why the hire? Someone at UVA was listening to people who are not going to accept the latest trends in college football (on offense), and this is causing problems in the AD and in decisionmaking needed to get this program competitive with programs (many of which will always have more talent).

    Bottom line is this. London cannot call the plays. He will not set up an effective system that outstrategy opponents. But does that mean we can't build a program on some of his strengths? We have a good DC.

    There is another option for doing this. Hire a solid, updated, and competitive offensive coordinator to install an updated system under London. We should at least be talking more about this, especially given the large contracts, recruits, and momentum the program has in other areas.

    One negative of this (and this may be seen at Clempson in a few years) is that you must be able to keep a good OC at all times if the program establishes itself, which is not necessarily necessary if you have a coach that can handle the X and Os/strategy.

    1. Fantastic comments. Thank you for posting.

    2. It is I who should be thanking you! Your blog is terrific, and it is one of the places to come for some deeper discussions and well-researched material.

  5. 1. I plan on going to have fun with friends and see Clemson's offense.

    2. I think the team is improving, but probably not fast enough. It's hard for me to write him off because of the experience on defense and returners on offense next year.

    3. London would need to improve in-game decisions and develop the o-line next year. Don't think this offense can work with a o-line that NEVER comes through on 3rd and 1, even going back to last year.

    5. Success is 7+ wins every year. Far away, doubt it is attainable under Oliver/London.

    6. Your blog is a source for you. Big donors have the strongest influence. I guess signs at games and being vocal can help persuade others.

    7. Call me optimistic, but i think 2014 can be a good year if coaching is decent. The o-line will be young in spots, but basically the rest of the offense comes back. Hopefully Keeon Johnson turns into a solid receiver and Jennings can keep catching the ball. The defense should improve with Brown, Blanding, and hopefully Braithwaite to bolster a talented group. The second year with the coordinators should be better, but only if the players still believe in London.

  6. 1 - no, hell no. why would i support this garbage?

    2 - no hope. i lost my hope during the vpi game last year and the 4-8 finish. good coaches dont go 4-8 with that soft of a schedule.

    3 - bowl games. more than 1.

    5 - bowl game every season.

    6 - not go to games, not buy tix until london is gone.

    7 - empty stadium, and huge embarassment in the eye of the nation. if hes not fired it means uva doesnt care about cfb and that makes this school impossible to win at.

  7. 1.yes because the kids deserve dupport!
    2.yes. I think team is young but can see positives. Qb improving. Dl and lb.
    3. Don't think u fire him. Team had very little talent when he got here he is bbc improving that .
    4.2015. Needs to coach his jrs and srs
    5.acc titles bcs bowls and national championship
    6 not a thing till supports gets better. Ifbi was admin I'd give to validation to them till they showed they could support football not with money but as fans
    7.we compete for conference title win 9 games

  8. While it's not totally relevant since I'm so far away, there is absolutely no chance I would go to this game even if I were in Charlottesville. Hell, I wouldn't go if I could get in for free.

    To me, being a fan is a reciprocal relationship: the team gives me enjoyment, hope and entertainment while I give them my time and money. Take a look at what this team has given you this year and it's clear to me that they have done absolutely nothing warranting any level of support on my end. I plan on watching every single basketball game this season, and I'm always present for every baseball game I can possibly make. Those are programs that have gone above and beyond in terms of improving themselves over the last decade, while football has been the victim of terrible decisions for the same length of time. I think it's a completely wrong-headed mindset to say that you have to support your team no matter what, because for most of you guys, your presence is the only thing you have that can make it clear to the athletic department that you disapprove of the direction of the team. Hell, I'm a die-hard Cubs fan and I haven't spent any money on the team in almost three years because they haven't shown me anything worth supporting, but I still pay attention while hoping and waiting fervently for their success.

    Fandom isn't sitting there through garbage and wasting your weekends, it's letting people know that you care about the results on the field. If the only way you have to voice your displeasure is your absence, so be it, but for Kendall specifically, I know he'll be there creating an inhuman amount of noise when this team gets its shit together.

  9. You have to support the team. These guys make me want to tear my hair out most days, but I'll still make the drive to C'ville for two or three games a year (that's the most I can make with my work travel schedule). Not showing up is cutting off your nose to spite your face. You think they'll have a better chance of beating VT with 60K UVA fans packing Scott, or with 30K UVA fans and 25K VT fans? Tough to build a winning program if the fans are absent - not showing up isn't the path to more victories.

    My definition of success for London is simple: 1) Make a bowl game, I don't care which one; 2) Beat VT at least half the time; 3) Run a good, clean program built on integrity that we can be proud of. I think he can do it. I'm good with giving him one more year. I think we do more harm than good firing him now - it sends a bad message to recruits and potential future coaches. Give him one more year, and if he can't turn it around, go find the gridiron equivalent of Tony Bennett.

    Nice job on the blog guys. I enjoy reading it and keep it up. Two weeks till hoops...

  10. 1. Yes, I go to every game, and I wouldn't want to miss a chance to see my hoos against the #8 team in the country, no matter how bad the score might be.
    2. Yes, it's a slim chance, but yes. He's won at the FCS level, and had one good year here, the potential is there, but he's still learning how to win consistently. Most fans will run out of patience before he figures it out.
    3/4. I think he should get the benefit of the doubt, in the form of a 5th year. There's a plethora of examples of coaches who had rough starts to their tenures only to turn it around after their 5th, 6th, or even 7th years (Welsh, Beamer, Cutcliffe, K, etc etc). Not saying London is one of them, but... Also the size of his buyout and the rest of the staffs' means that unless some big money donor wants to personally finance a coaching staff change, London is not going anywhere this year.
    5. Success is incremental, we should start by beating Tech/getting bowl eligible consistently. Once that, we start to aim higher, towards competing for ACC championships/BCS bowl berths. At this point the we should be in a position to take full advantage of ALL of the talent that regularly comes out of VA and be ready to be nationally relevant consistently. This is not an overnight change, it will require patience and a top to bottom commitment to football (possibly to the detriment of our non-revenue sports).
    6. Other than not spending their $$, nothing. But, the big money donors have 10000x more say than a stadium full of fans.
    7. Honestly, I would be more optimistic for next season than I was with this season. The biggest issue that continues to plague us is our crappy offensive line. There is no excuse for how badly our line has played the last two years, despite the NFL talent. If anyone should be fired it should be Wachenheim. But other than that we return 95% of our team, which by the way is currently one of the youngest in the country. The biggest losses will be Moses and Urban. Other than that everyone graduating will be entirely replaceable by the young guys. Watford has really matured in his decision making this year, and he looked a lot more comfortable against GT. I'd expect a lot out of next years squad but the schedule is pretty tough next year (@FSU, @VT, @GT, @BYU, and a really solid UCLA team) so who the hell knows what our record would be.

    Honestly, deep down, I think London will ultimately fail, but his potential as a coach and recruiter, coupled with his insane contract basically force us to let him stick around for another year. If, somehow, he gets it together towards the end of this year and we make a splash next year, with the talent he has we can be something special very soon, much quicker than firing him now and starting from scratch would yield.

  11. I'll just say this: the problem I see on this blog is that people have way too high expectations for UVA football. Get this through your heads: on the national stage, we are nothing. NOTHING.

    I saw a comment on this blog after we lost to Maryland saying "now we know how FSU felt 2 years ago." Sorry, we have no fucking clue how FSU felt 2 years ago because FSU starts every season knowing they could compete for a national championship. We are a bottom dweller of the worst BCS conference.

    As far as coaching options go: we'd be extremely LUCKY (or would have to throw an absolutely STUPID amount of money around) if we could somehow convince an offensive coordinator from a place like Oregon or Georgia to come here. And even if we do, they will look at us as nothing but a stepping stone. We'll either get 3 or 4 bad years out of them if they aren't ready, or we'll get 1 or 2 good years before they bolt for greener pastures.

    This is the reality of our situation. 2 win seasons shouldn't be openly embraced, but they shouldn't surprise anyone either. Hold onto the "sleeping giant" title if it makes you feel better, just be prepared to hold onto it for several decades.

    1. Oh, that's no fun!

      I do think you underestimate the potential of Virginia Football at least as much as we overestimate it. The reality is that we can absolutely become a consistent 7-8 win program. All it takes is the right leadership and smart scheduling. We have a lot going for us - location, good school, stadium, IPF, rich donors, good TV contract through the ACC, fertile recruiting territory. There's infrastructure for sustainable success.

    2. Some counterpoints to your argument. First, couldn't Fresno, Boise St., Baylor, Northern Illinois, Oregon (10 years ago), Texas Tech, etc, have made the same argument a few years back. Observers look at the success of these programs and begin asking questions: why are they successful?

      Second, I don't think anyone has claimed we are on a level of Fla State, so this is a at least an inflated assertion in regards to the discussions.

      Could your argument have been made about basketball at UVA a few years ago, after three coaches had failed to resurrect the program? What happened that turned the program around, from UVA's strategy and defense system (and remember, our recruiting classes are still not at top program level, nor will they be for some time)? Examining successful turnarounds is as important as diagnosing problems in turning the football program around.

      Personally, I would not expect to hire GA, Fla State, Alabama's or Oregon's OC. What we need is an offensive coordinator that has an established track record of creating a strategic advantage (duplicating what we have in Bennett's pack line defense). We don't have that now.

      Fairchild's last 10 years seemed checkered by what is often quickly diagnosed as "poor OL play" and "inconsistent QB play" (often symptomatic of a system that does not spread the field). The "power run setting up the pass" is a system that Bud Foster is supremely confident about stopping, almost every time he faces it. It is a system that seems, in the current landscape of college football, less likely to allow programs with some of the competitive disadvantages you cite establish programs that go to the next level. So, why not debate a change of strategic direction, at least offensively, at UVA?

      I have a young person in my family who I would love to see succeed in academics and school. Unfortunately, the young person use some of the same arguments: I am who I am (not how I act or make decisions), and I lose at school, my peer group has few established winners, so therefore what is the point? The problem with these arguments is that they often become self-fulfilling prophecies. At least make a gameplan that is geared for success, and if it doesn't work, be open and self-critical enough to examine what may have gone wrong and correct it. Examine students who are succeeding, often with the same resources and background you have. They are there.

      I like to see fans support the team, and I agree with those posters who are encouraging all fans to do so. Most programs or organizations go through down periods. However, I can see reasons Kendall's despair. Our "old ball coach" offensive system, , may deliver enough "small successes" that it is retained (as many here are predicting). Kendall and other posters seems to expect our offensive output to improve somewhat week to week, and I could see that occurring too. But, underlying issues of lacking a strategic advantage with other teams may remain. Hoping the offensive strategy changes (and the offensive recruiting this year from new coaches who have struggled at the last stops is not a new pattern) is not being down on our kids, its an attempt to give the kids a better chance of success.