College Football: Groh dismissed at Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. ó Virginia fired Al Groh after nine seasons as football coach at his alma mater Sunday, ending a tenure marked by his inability to beat rival Virginia Tech.
Groh’s dismissal came less than 24 hours after the Cavaliers (3-9, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost 42-13 at home to the No. 11 Hokies, finishing their worst season since they were 2-9 in 1982. It also was their eighth loss to the Hokies in Groh’s nine tries.
“There is not a coach in the college game who has worked harder than Al Groh in trying to build a football program,” athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement. “Football is his life and he dedicated himself to the university and to our football team. We are grateful for his service and for his commitment to his players and his coaching staff.”
Groh, 65, had two years remaining on his contract and will receive a buyout of approximately $4.33 million, Littlepage said. The search for a replacement will begin immediately.
Groh was hired on Dec. 30, 2000, when he resigned after one season as the head coach of the New York Jets to take over at the school where he lettered in football and lacrosse, graduating in 1967. He replaced George Welsh, who had retired after 19 seasons.
Welsh, then the ACC career leader in victories, had just two losing seasons in his 19 years, but the Cavaliers finished 6-6 in his final season, prompting the change.
Groh went 59-53 with the Cavaliers and guided them to five bowl games, including four straight beginning with his second season. The team averaged eight wins over those four years, but managed just one more winning season in his last four, going 9-4 in 2007.
Groh, the ACC coach of the year in 2002 and ’07, was 36-36 in conference games.
Virginia lost its final six games this year and its last six against the Hokies, who joined the conference in 2005 and have been the league’s dominant team ever since.