2-2 record: Now's no time for Cav desperation
Fans who are having anxiety attacks over UVA’s losses to UNC and Southern Miss need to breathe into a paper bag and splash their face with cold water. And if that doesn’t help, they can try remembering that even though they’re stressful, the losses are part of a larger picture and a necessary, albeit frustrating, step on the road to success.
Perhaps due to all the talk of super recruits and bowl games and how Mike London makes every other coach look like a hack, Virginia’s football program is virtually trapped in a snare of its own making. A 2-2 record is not where the team expected to be at the end of September. Most people found a way to treat Virginia’s loss to UNC like a win, but the loss to Southern Miss? Not so easy to spin.
Virginia put in the work. Their early-morning practices are already the stuff of legend. September 24 was supposed to be the day good intentions and hard work came together in a compelling Cavalier victory. Instead it was a slap in the face. A Roanoke Times photo shows offensive guard Luke Bowanko sitting on the sidelines with his head in his hands. Luke Bowanko hanging his head– for what?
In every sports facility– and UVA is certainly no exception– somewhere in the labyrinth of offices, hallways, tunnels and locker rooms, is a poster of a sunset. Or a waterfall. Or a rainbow. Or a baby duck or a mountaintop. And under the sunset or rainbow are probably some words about opportunity or perseverance or ambition or courage or success accompanied by a quotation.
There’s also always one about failure. That poster is perfect for UVA football at this moment. Stand in front of the word “FAILURE”; reflect on it for a while. Making friends with failure is the best thing the Cavaliers can do.
If London, his staff, and his team had engaged in this exercise months ago, they might not be consumed with an obsessive need to immediately change everyone else’s perception of Virginia’s football program now. Their desire to win is dangerously close to becoming an all-consuming fear of failure.
A 2006 Business Week cover story entitled, “How Failure Breeds Success” put it this way: “Everyone fears failure. But breakthroughs depend on it.” If that weren’t true, there would be no basis for the tacky poster in the cheap frame. People have to accept that failure is crucial to learning and improving if they want to succeed.
But it doesn’t seem Mike London is there yet. After the loss to Southern Miss, he seemed more desperate than anything. “We’ve got to come out and win,” he said. “You’ve got to make it better. You’ve got to make the plays.”
Someone please get Mike London a cold washcloth and a paper bag. Better than what? Make what plays? Whom are you trying to convince? Take a look, Coach London, your team is better; they are making plays.
There’s one quote in particular the Cavaliers should ponder, cheap poster or no. Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Virginia is putting in the preparation and hard work, but in order to learn from failure, Mike London and his team have to stop being afraid of it. If UVA can do that and learn a little patience for good measure, it won’t be long until some other school starts handing out paper bags.
Juanita lives on a farm in Charlotte County with her husband, son, and many dogs.