The Cavalier Daily
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Say Goodbye to your seven win season

After Saturday's catastrophic loss to Duke in double overtime, many people have written off any chance the Virginia football team has to maintain its streak of consecutive seven-win seasons.

An article in the Roanoke Times Monday referred to the seven-win plateau as "the stated goal" of George Welsh and his squad. Not surprisingly, the curmudgeonly Welsh has expressed doubt at his team's chances of repeating such a feat this year.

Virginia football fans love to invoke the seven-win mantra. They cite the fact that the Cavaliers are one of only four programs to notch seven or more victories in each of the past 12 years.

But the other three schools with such streaks are Michigan, Florida State and Nebraska.

As they used to say on "Sesame Street," one of these things is not like the other.

The Wolverines' streak of seven-win seasons stretches back 14 years, to the 1985 campaign. That stretch included one national title in 1997, and at least a share of the Big Ten crown in eight other years.

Florida State has reached or surpassed the seven-win plateau in each of the last 17 seasons, claiming the last six ACC titles, one national title and finishing in the Top 5 in the Associated Press Poll for the past 12 years. Unless Peter Warrick starts taking the rest of his teammates shopping, the Seminoles likely will extend that streak.

The Cornhuskers have a similar record of success. They captured three national championships in the past five years alone and are back among the national elite again this season.

Then compare this with Virginia's track record during the stretch of seven-win seasons. The Cavs claimed a share of the ACC title on two occasions, in 1989 and 1995, and never won the crown outright. The Cavaliers posted a double-digit win total only in the 1989 season, and have not won a bowl since '95.

The difference between Virginia and the three powerhouses listed above is simple: the Cavaliers view a seven-win season as a success, while Nebraska, Michigan and FSU would view such a campaign as a major disappointment.

A seven-win season in college is the equivalent of a B+ average. Sure, it's impressive, but why not go for the A?

To accept a seven-win season as something adequate, and something to build on, is one thing. But to establish such a record as your primary goal is ridiculous.

Any college athletic team's main objective should at least be to win the Conference title, if not to set its sights on a national championship. To consistently shoot for anything less is unacceptable.

That's not to say other schools don't have advantages over Virginia, especially in football. Florida State and Nebraska do not face the more rigorous academic standards that Cavalier coaches must adhere to when recruiting new players. And while Michigan and Notre Dame have comparable academic reputations, they also boast a much greater tradition in college football.

Is winning really everything? No, but for top athletes, it comes pretty close. The best and brightest stars of the athletic world want championship rings, not pats on the back after another seven- or eight-win season. They want the sweet smell of success of the Rose Bowl, instead of the acrid taste of the Poulan WeedEater Independence Bowl.

Now holding a 3-3 record and having lost its last two games, however, something is amiss in the way Virginia is approaching college football. Teams are becoming hungrier. Relative unknowns like East Carolina and Marshall have clamored for their share of the spotlight in recent years.

If the Cavs don't start increasing their appetite, they might be entering a true famine period.