Al Groh Press Conference Comments from Aug. 17
Aug. 17, 2006
Question: On UVa’s tradition of excellent tight ends.
Groh: Certainly, it made more sense to use them, so it was a combination of we were kind of looking in that direction to start with, and then we had the players who could make it happen and then two things kind of grew where we found expanded way to use them and then that becomes very attractive to the next generation of tight ends so we hope that’s something we can keep going for quite sometime, but it’s our objective to be on a year to year basis to be a very strong tight end team.
Well if you look at the numbers, obviously we look at them because we have them, but of the 12 ACC teams, Virginia tight ends have caught 295 passes. The next closest is 200, the next closest after that is 197 and the next closest after that is under 150. So if a player would like to be a tight end and not a tackle with a tight end’s number, the facts would seem to say this is a pretty good place where you really get to play tight end.
Question: Would you like UVa to be known as Tight End U?
Groh: We’d be real happy with that.
Question: On Mike Groh
Groh: The main attraction to Mike being here was his leadership ability and his ability to relate to players, so on the basis of those two qualities very much yes.
Question: What are the upsides to having your son as offensive coordinator?
Groh: He knows how I think about as well as anybody can, more so then we think the same. That ties in with something I was asked earlier about growing up a coach and a son of a coach. The thing I think is most gratifying to me is that my sons have been around me on the practice field, in the locker room, and around all the time. It’s football, everybody likes football, and as children they liked football. This certainly sounds like a simplistic thing, but they like football a lot more then they would have like insurance. They were interested in what their dad was doing and they were interested in being around. Whatever position I had whether it was being a position coach, a coordinator or a head coach, I just had to coach the team and coach my position the way I thought it needed to be coached. It couldn’t say I need to coach a certain way because Mike is watching. I just had to be who I was. It’s very gratifying for good, bad and/or indifferent that both of them know pretty well who there father is.
There was one point in my career where a coaching friend of mine was proving that he knew what was going on, he came in and said to me, “Do you really care what people think?” This is probably revealing more of myself then I’d like to, but he said, “Do you really care what people think?” and I said at this point in my life other than on issues of morality and ethics, “probably not”. He said, “Good, then you have a chance.” Because everybody’s going to have an idea about what you should do. The players, the assistant coaches, the administration or ownership, the coaches’ wives, the fans, everybody’s going to have an idea of what you should do, and if you start making decisions based on what everybody else thinks, you’re making decisions for the wrong reasons. Then he said, “Just coach the team the way you think the team needs to be coached everyday.” Which isn’t an arrogant statement that means take in all the input you think you might need, but in the end result, you have to coach the team the way you think the team needs to be coached.
Question: That wouldn’t happen to be the same guy coaching T.O.?
Groh: One in the same. Actually, he provided me with a locker nameplate. It showed up on my desk a couple days later. It said, “Just coach the team.” And it still sits on my desk. It helps guide me in many circumstances everyday. When he became the head coach in Dallas, we were speaking and I said, “You know, a couple years ago a guy gave me some really good advice, it’s helped me a lot.”And he said, “what might that be?”I said, “Just wait and see.”I really though he would remember it, and so I went down and I got the equipment guys to make one in blue and white with a star on each end, and I sent it to him and it said, “Just coach the team.” I haven’t seen it personally, but people tell me when they walk in his office they often say, “What’s behind all that?” Well he’s actually the author of the statement. As I say it’s a good guiding principle. It helps me out in a lot of circumstances. Just coach the team you think the way the team needs to be coached today.
Question: Has Fontel Mines stepped up his leadership given the circumstance?
Groh: He’s really stepped up in that circumstance. They’re such good friends to start with. It’s almost when the players elected Deyon they elected Fontel too. There’s that same kind of compatibility of ambition and thought and style with those guys. He’s really been very prominent in all of this right from the start.
Question: On the team’s youth
Groh: It’s been challenging for sure. For them and for us. I wouldn’t say it’s been seamless. That probably would be unexpected. Just given the large number of them all doing it at the same time, for each one it’s had its rough moments, it’s had its good moments, but overall for each individual it’s probably gone pretty decently all things considered, but when you lump them all together and try to get cohesive and smooth operation at that time from an overall team standpoint sometimes there’s been some challenging moments, but as I’ve said before that’s the way it was for their predecessors too. It was that way for D’Brickashaw, it was that way for Wali, it was that way for Butler, it was that way for a lot of people too. That’s just the challenge of it and even though it might be a demanding type of fun, that’s the fun of it for us trying to put it together, trying to get it put together on time. We’re on a time schedule, that’s what’s really challenging about it.