Al Groh removed as head coach

After all the speculation and discussion, it's over:

Craig Littlepage, University of Virginia director of athletics, today announced that Al Groh would not be retained as head football coach, effective immediately. Littlepage met with Groh, who just concluded his ninth season, earlier today to inform the coach of his decision.

“There is not a coach in the college game who has worked harder than Al Groh in trying to build a football program. Football is his life and he dedicated himself to the University and to our football team,” Littlepage said. “We are grateful for his service and for his commitment to his players and his coaching staff.”

Groh, a UVa alumnus, was named Virginia’s head coach on Dec. 30, 2000. His nine Virginia teams compiled an overall record of 59-53 and participated in five bowl games, winning three of them. Groh was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2007, and the American Football Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year in 2004. The Cavaliers have had losing records three of the last four seasons and were 3-9 in 2009.

A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately. An assistant coaching staff will be assembled by the new head coach and it will be the choice of the new coach to determine if any current staff members are retained. Littlepage did not specify a time frame for concluding the search, taking into account the fact that many of the possible candidates will be involved in postseason play. Littlepage said that he would make no further comments until the search has been concluded.

“Our goals for the UVa football program will remain the same. We will pursue winning and excellence in all facets of the University experience for our student-athletes, both on the field and in the classroom. There are a number of excellent coaches whose backgrounds and styles align with our goals and values,” Littlepage said. “When you combine our aspirations with the institutional commitment to athletic facilities and resources, I believe that the job of head football coach at UVa will be attractive to some outstanding candidates.”

Groh has two years remaining on his contract. He and the University have come to a financial agreement, which is the responsibility of the athletics department, that will pay him approximately $4.33 million. The department does not receive any state funding.

So long, Coach Groh. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. I know you wanted UVa to be successful at football even more than we fans did.

Now let all the speculation, drama, gossip, and rumor-fueled discussion about the next coach begin....