Cloud over Groh’s future
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ó Virginia coach Al Groh isn’t interested in talking about whether his time at his alma mater is soon to end.
In his mind, it’s Miami week, and that means grinding into the wee hours planning schemes to beat the No. 16 Hurricanes and abiding by the sign on his desk: “Just coach the team.”
Athletic director Craig Littlepage told The Associated Press that Groh will be evaluated at the end of the season on his “full body of work,” and he cast an ominous cloud on that process considering the steady decline in fan support for the struggling Cavaliers.
“Our goal is to have our fans support the team realizing that the players continue to respond to their coaches,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The players are working hard every day to represent the University of Virginia. Fans have various options for how they spend their Saturday afternoons; we’d like for our fans to be in the stadium supporting our program.”
Since their opener, when 54,587 watched the Cavaliers lose 26-14 to William & Mary of the Football Championship Subdivision, crowds have dwindled at the 61,500-seat stadium. Last week, 41,713 saw Virginia lose 28-17 to Duke, its second consecutive loss in the series. It was the smallest crowd since the stadium was expanded for the 2001 season.
Through five home dates, the average crowd of 46,605 is almost 15,000 below capacity. More telling, perhaps, is that the average is down more than 7,200 from last year’s 5-7 team.
Groh seemed more subdued than usual on his Sunday night teleconference with reporters and again when he met with the media Monday, but told the AP: “I don’t feel more emotional.”
He declined to say whether he has spoken to Littlepage recently about his future.
The Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2 ACC) have lost two straight and head to Miami (6-2, 3-2) trying to avoid their third losing season in four years.
GREENSBORO ó The ACC will send teams to the Sun and Independence bowls starting next year.
The league said Thursday it renewed six bowl deals and reached agreements with two others for the four-year period from 2010-13.
The El Paso, Texas-based Sun Bowl matches a Pac-10 team against either the ACC’s title-game loser or its third selection after the Bowl Championship Series. The Shreveport, La.-based Indepedence Bowl pits the league’s sixth post-BCS selection against the Mountain West’s No. 3 pick.
CHARLOTTE ó The Meineke Bowl is moving up one spot in the ACC selection order in a new deal that runs through 2013.
The Charlotte bowl will have the ACC’s fourth pick after the BCS starting next year. The game has the fifth choice from the league this year in a matchup against a Big East school.
The new ACC order will also guarantee that the Meineke Bowl will not get the loser of the ACC championship game, which will also be played in Charlotte starting in 2010.