George Welsh: Living legend needs work

George Welsh is sleeping better since he retired as UVA's head coach after the 2000 season. When he was coaching, he could never sleep the night before a game. "I was always nervous the day of a game," he says. "I don't know why. I wasn't going to get fired."

Talk about your understatements. This from the man who brought the UVA football team from the toilet bowl to the Peach Bowl and became the winningest coach in the ACC.

These days as he watches UVA play from a box, he admits the feel of the game is different up there. And that's not the only thing that's different. He still has an office at UVA in the old ticket office at U-Hall– but he doesn't get the perks of being a coach, like a car or a secretary. "I can't delegate," he grouses.

After 19 seasons coaching the 'Hoos, Welsh says that for the first year he found the freedom of retirement rejuvenating. Now he's getting restless. He's a part-time scout for the New York Giants, a pastime he calls "more of an avocation than a job."

"I'm looking for a third career," he says.

That probably won't be as a pitchman for companies like Eddins Ford, where Welsh got use of a car for a year in exchange for doing a commercial. "Maybe if I looked like Robert Redford," he jokes.

Age: 69

What brought you here? This job in 1982

What's worst about living here? Traffic

Favorite hangout? Aberdeen Barn has increased tremendously since I've been here.

What's overrated? Money

What would people be surprised to know about you? I have an intellectual bent. I've read a lot of Russian literature.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A lot of people thought of me as aloof and reserved. I'm not aloof, and could have done more on those lines.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? Taking two football teams from the bottom and bringing them up, and graduating from the Naval Academy.

What do people find most annoying about you? I'm not a "hail fellow well met." At certain times of the year, I was not very affable or gracious, and during the football season I had blinders on.

Whom do you admire? Admiral Ephraim Holmes and Admiral Kinnard McKee

Favorite book? Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

What subject causes you to rant? I don't rant except sometimes on the practice field when things were going poorly.

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? Medical advances

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? The partisan political climate and acrimony

What do you drive? Ford Explorer [see story]

What's in your car CD player right now? Nothing. I usually listen to sports, NPR, or talk shows.

What's your next journey? The French Riviera and the Mediterranean ports I went to when I lived in France when in the Navy.

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? I was almost dismissed from the Naval Academy my first year because I had so many demerits.

What do you regret? I don't have any regrets. Maybe as head coach, not doing things differently in games I lost. Everybody has that sort of regret.

Favorite comfort food? New England clam chowder and macaroni and cheese

What's always in your refrigerator? Juice orange or V8, fruit, cheese, fat-free milk, and smoked turkey or chicken breast

Must-see TV? CNBC at 5 to watch the stocks go down

Favorite cartoon? New Yorker cartoons, although some I still can't figure out

Describe a perfect day. In Nantucket in the summer. It's nice and cool while it's 95 degrees in Charlottesville. I'd go surf fishing early with coffee and a muffin to try to get some bluefish. I'd drive on the beach and go clamming. Then I'd take a picnic to the beach and go in the water just once because it's so darn cold. Friends would gather around and bring clams, swordfish, and steak; we'd grill on the beach, and then go home.

Walter Mitty fantasy? I never fantasized about coaching a team in the Super Bowl.

Who'd play you in the movie? George C. Scott

Most embarrassing moment? A couple of terrible beatings on the football field where we lost by 50 points.

Best advice you ever got? You're going to have to coach the way your personality is. You can't be Woody Hayes, Mo Schembechler, or Knute Rockne. You have to be George Welsh.

Favorite bumper sticker? The V sabre circle sticker. My son designed that.