The last go for Groh

Al Groh coaches the University of Virginia's football team for the last time today against the most fitting opponent.

Virginia Tech.

No rival, trend or event more defined Groh's nine seasons. None contributed more to his demise.

Groh guided the Cavaliers to five bowls — they won three — and two top-25 finishes. He worked tirelessly, earned two ACC Coach of the Year honors and oversaw the development of five first-round NFL draft choices.

Groh irritated superiors and donors with unapologetic arrogance. He installed his ill-equipped son as offensive coordinator, mismanaged the roster and twice lost to Duke.

Yet no matter what he did — good, bad or indifferent — the chasm between the state's two premier football programs appeared to widen.

Virginia administrators and fans deemed the latter untenable, and shortly after the Cavaliers conclude their third losing season in four years today at Scott Stadium, the school will jettison Groh.

Dismissal? Coerced resignation? It doesn't matter. For the sake of all concerned, Groh must go.

Virginia enters today's contest 3-8 overall and 2-5 in the ACC. If only Groh had been that good against Tech.

The Cavaliers are 1-7 against the Hokies on his watch, 0-5 since Tech (8-3, 5-2) joined Virginia in the ACC.

Some of the games were hauntingly close — the Hokies prevailed 17-14 last year in Blacksburg with a late defensive stand.

Others were startlingly lopsided — Tech dismantled Virginia 52-14 in Charlottesville four years ago.

But Groh detests what-ifs, and the harsh truth is he's the first Cavaliers coach to lose five consecutive games to the Hokies.

Sharing conference membership makes it worse.

Losing to blood rivals from another league is bad enough. Losing and staring up at them in the standings is a large slice of hell.

For example, Virginia joined the ACC in 1954 but has yet to win an outright football championship. Tech has won three in six seasons.

The Hokies earned three similar titles as Big East members during the 1990s, but Cavaliers faithful could dismiss the Big East as inferior. Now the programs encounter virtually identical conference competition, and the results are jarring.

Tech is an ACC-best 37-10 in league play since joining in 2004. Virginia is 23-24 during the same stretch.

The Hokies boast no such domination of the Cavaliers in any other sport. In fact, Virginia is superior in most.

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