THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Gloom, despair: Littlepage to blame for UVA losses
My Daddy raised me on a diet of Hee-Haw and Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. As an adult, I haven't found much use for Barbara, Louise, or Irlene (though "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed" is very catchy), but Hee-Haw's lessons endure: cleavage and cutoffs get the job done; don't stand with your back to a wood fence; and, for some people, there's only bad luck.
Remember that sketch? Every week it was the same: numerous drunken hillbillies sprawled around with jugs of moonshine and Beauregard the Wonder Dog, howling,
"Gloom, despair and agony on me-e!
Deep dark depression, excessive misery-y!
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all!
Gloom, despair and agony on me-e-e!"
I wouldn't be surprised if Craig Littlepage had been humming that tune since Saturday. His basketball program is in the tank, he's millions behind on fundraising, and his football coach is incompetent and delusional. Who has better reason to lay around with Beauregard than UVA's athletic director?
Anybody with a lick of sense, that's who. Only one man could have averted UVA's pathetic yet well-deserved loss to William and Mary last Saturday, and it wasn't Al Groh. Most people agree Groh couldn't avert himself out of a paper bag– no, the man with whom the culpability lies better not be crying and moaning, because bad luck had nothing to do with Saturday's trainwreck, the 14-26 defeat by William & Mary.
It's time to quit speculating whether Al Groh will be fired and start asking when Craig Littlepage will hit the bricks.
You may think Groh is a good coach, citing his four consecutive winning seasons and his bowl game appearances. Or you might say he is terrible, focusing on his back-to-back losing seasons (the first in 27 years) and poor poll showings. Both views hold water, and that's why Littlepage needs to clean out his office as much as Groh.
Either Groh is a good coach who refuses to give UVA his best, or he's an inept and dismal coach who's been lucky a few times. How either of those scenarios is acceptable to an athletic director, I can't figure, unless of course, Littlepage's capability is as questionable as Groh's.
Take the Dave Leitao situation. After four years at UVA and two years after the ACC named him Coach of the Year, Leitao was out on his keister. The 2008-2009 basketball season had been the worst since '67-'68. To top it off, it was Littlepage's finest moment. Littlepage issued a statement in March that "improvements in football and men's basketball are a priority."
And yet Groh stays, despite having lost 10 of his last 15 games, whining about being criticized, having a 5-7 record last year, and repeatedly recruiting academically ineligible players. As late as August, Littlepage was still staunchly behind him, saying in an interview with the Roanoke Times, "I fully support [Groh] as our coach... if you look at the totality of what he's done, he's certainly put together a good program."
As this column is written, Littlepage has yet to state differently, despite the fact that as ESPN so eloquently noted, Saturday's game was "one of [UVA's] most embarrassing losses in recent history" and his head coach was insipid enough to say "it's just unfortunate that a few plays ruined the outcome for a lot of players."
"Unfortunate?" Again, Hee-Haw's lessons are timeless. Those hillbillies weren't unfortunate or unlucky; they were pathetic. Week to week, their situation never changed– they were always wretched and useless, and they always blamed their troubles on bad luck. Like Groh and Littlepage, they couldn't or wouldn't do what was needed to succeed.
Only UVA players and fans have a right to claim bad luck here. They have to take the lumps Littlepage and Groh keep handing out, though both men have proven their only consistency lies in their being inept in their respective positions.
That calls for a little gloom and despair, don't you think?