Football faux pas
Unlike most everyone else, I remained in Scott Stadium as the final seconds trickled off the clock and the score became official: 26-14, in favor of William and Mary. I had walked into the stadium, like everyone else, exuding confidence and with the assurance that this would be a sure victory, one that might put the Cavs on the positive track this season. After the first touchdown, any fears of an upset were assuaged. Three minutes hadn't ticked off the clock yet. Fast-forward to when there were three minutes left on the clock and the Sea of Orange was flooding out the gates like the dam had burst. I, and those few with me as the mass exodus trounced past us, stood jaw-dropped and awestruck at what had happened. In three years of watching U.Va. football, I've seen some spectacular things; none of them topped (or rather, bottomed) this display, this very disgrace to the sport of football.
I come from Oklahoma City, the heart of the midwest where football equals your quality of manhood. My grandfather was the first national championship quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, my father played at the University of Colorado, and there was a time where I had to decide if I wanted to pursue a quarterbacking career at a smaller college. Football is in my blood, but I say this to make an important point. That I know the sport gives me no authority to make rash, 'arm-chair quarterback' criticisms at every turn in a game. The facts aforementioned mean I'm slightly more authoritative in this realm than your average 8 year old girl. I was always slow to disparage Al Groh and U.Va. football because I understand (to a scaled down degree) the going-ons behind the scenes. A bad play call here, a horrible pass there, while my friends would groan in agony at every little mistake, I reserved judgement. Now, the time for judgement is rapidly approaching.
This was the first time William and Mary has beaten a D-1 football school in eleven years. It's U.Va.'s first loss to a subdivision team since 1986. We fumbled snaps from shotgun formation. Our spread offense was outrageously ineffective. We went through three quarterbacks.
Three quarterbacks! It's the position I know best, and therefore understand that, for the layman, it unfairly overshadows other vital parts of the offense. But the fact remains that the quarterback is the leader on the field, the person that starts every play and touches the ball every down. If you can't decide who will lead, can you possibly win? Jameel Sewell, who failed out of the University after the 2007 season, was revived of his downfall in a move I can't quite understand. Why did we bring him back? He was the starting quarterback for a winning season, sure, but one that set records for its low scoring margin and was ranked 101st in total offense of 119 teams. Makes you wonder if, perhaps, Chris Long was the leader that season?
Next season we started Peter Lalich, an all around screw-up. Everyone and their sister knew it. These are supposed to be the guys kids put posters of up on their walls. Not only were these supposed-to-be leaders doing anything but lead, there was a string of other incidents involving U.Va. football players getting into serious trouble off the field. One had to begin to wonder about the health of the U.Va. football program. Surely, these players were exemptions on the U.Va. football team as a whole, but they were also exemptions that were starting players, the big names that most people recognized.
Barry Switzer is a renowned football coach in Oklahoma; the man knew how to win football games. He also had to retire because he had no control over his players, who were bona-fide criminals in football jerseys, and he didn't want to babysit them. Al Groh has had the crime and lack of team leadership of Barry Switzer, minus the winning. Upstanding demeanors Sunday through Friday reflect strongly on Saturday.
I heard someone say while exiting, "The only good thing about this is that Groh is definitely through." I don't know if he will, or should, get fired, and if the "Groh must go" crowd will finally get their way. I do know he needs to turn things around, and fast. He needs a quarterback who can keep a team inspired not for a game, but a season. He needs to be able to get his team respectable off the field as well as on. Like I said, I'm slow to criticize, so I won't say he needs to be sacked today or act like coaching isn't incredibly difficult. But the straw is starting to pile up on this camel's back. Seasons have started worse and turned better many, many times in football history, so I dare not boycott every game for the rest of this season, so long as the changes that need to happen, do.
Reed Arnold\nCLAS III
Clarification: An earlier version of this letter incorrectly stated that Lalich "had clear chemical dependencies." During Lalich's time at the University, there was no evidence to support the assertion that he had a dependency on any chemical substance.\n