For shame! Bowl offer can't make up for Tech loss
Did you know UVA’s beat-the-buzzer punt return and lateral pass was named Geico’s 2011 Play of the Year? The Cavs fielded their own punt, blindly lateraled the ball, and then ran 35 yards for a winning touchdown just as the clock expired.
Could anyone ask for a more dramatic victory? It was exactly what Virginia fans were hoping for from UVA, and the team delivered. Back in September. Against Emory and Henry.
Thank goodness for UVA-Wise; if it weren’t for CBS Sports’ November 25 airing of “Geico Presents Best of College Football 2011,” there would have been nothing but bad news about Virginia football this past weekend. How were coaches and columnists able to sugarcoat UVA’s performance and look for the positive? Headlines like the AP’s “Virginia Looks at the Bright Side” and quotes from Coach London like “We’re disappointed” are untenable. This year’s game against Virginia Tech was horrific.
Disappointed? Last Saturday’s loss was the first shutout on Cav turf in 27 years, and this is the eighth year in a row Virginia has lost to Tech. As Roanoke Times reporter Doug Doughty wrote the day after the game, “The Cavaliers should have been embarrassed. They should have been ashamed of their performance. They should have been angry.” It’s about time someone stated the honest truth instead of trying to act as if the loss was just a bump in the road.
If the November 26 game made you angry, if you were too humiliated and embarrassed to leave the house Sunday morning, it’s understandable. If the loss was so painful that you still can’t discuss the game with other Virginia fans, much less anyone else, it’s okay. Coach London, his staff, Chase Minnifield, Michael Rocco, Perry Jones, Kris Burd and the rest of the team all should have done better.
It’s not pleasant to pass judgment on a group of kids and coaches who have worked hard this season and done so much to improve Virginia football. It’s not fun to call out Chase Minnifield after he gave up a year in the NFL to stay at UVA, and it’s distasteful to criticize an often-underappreciated offensive line. But no one seems to want to dig into the loss, least of all Coach London: he’d rather focus on Virginia’s 8-4 record and upcoming bowl game appearance. But the question remains: “What the devil happened?”
In his post-game comments, London was dead wrong when he said, “No one thought we’d be this far or get to this point.” London can’t board the humility train now; he and his team are precisely the reason we expected to get to this point. They are the ones who prompted Frank Beamer to tell ESPN, “Virginia didn’t back into this. This team is for real.” London and his team were the ones who convinced everyone, Virginia and Tech fans alike, that UVA wouldn’t just make a tremendous showing against Tech this year, but that there was a good chance the Cavaliers would win.
London was right when he said, “8-4 is a good season for us.” It’s a good season, and London is a good coach with a good team– far too good to end the regular season with a shutout loss against a bitter rival. Virginia may be going to a bowl game, but even a win there can’t eclipse last Saturday’s shameful performance– and it shouldn’t.
Don’t be disappointed Coach London, be angry. Be embarrassed. Only then will you find the answers that will make another such horrible performance an impossibility.
Juanita lives on a farm in Charlotte County with her husband, son, and many dogs.Read more on: uva football