Posted: 9:25 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013
By Matt Pik
Different schools have different standards when it comes to college football. A 7-5 season for Florida State would be very different than a 7-5 season for, say, Florida International. That's pretty obvious.
Virginia's standards are tough to hone in on, however. There is no doubt that this is a proud football school with plenty of tradition. But on the other hand, it is a team that has leeway to have a down season every now and then. In other words, nobody is pressing the panic button after last year's 4-8 season. UVA has the luxury of being a program whose fanbase understands that it is a team clearly in rebuilding mode. Teams like Alabama can't say the same. For them, it's national title or bust, and they never rebuild, only reload. So what does this have to do with anything?
Well, UVA's season could go a in a multitude of different directions. With an untested quarterback, offensive line questions, and an inexperienced linebackers corps, there are reasons to question the mettle of this football team. But with a number of talented skill players, a respectable front four on defense, and a strong secondary unit, Virginia also has a reasons for optimism. The final record for this football team is still very much up in the air, but based on the program's history, we can determine what it will take for this season to be a successful one and what it will take for it to be a bust.
Two years ago, Virginia had by far its best season under head coach Mike London, going 8-4 and reaching the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (where they lost to Auburn). After a run in which UVA made 15 bowl games in 18 years spanning from 1987-2005, it was only its second bowl game appearance in 6 seasons. In 2012, things went downhill in a hurry. Expectations were tempered after a down year, as the Cavaliers went 4-8 and saw a turnover in the coaching staff.
Virginia lost some of its most valuable pieces in the offseason, and also saw its top two quarterbacks in Mike Rocco and Phillip Sims leave the program. The team's schedule is extremely daunting, with non-conference matchups against BYU and Oregon joining usual ACC foes like Clemson, North Carolina, and that other Virginia team with the turkey as its mascot. The Hoos may be looking at 4-8 again with a weaker roster than last season. But going worse than that, as in three wins or less and being at the bottom of the ACC Coastal division, is serious regression. Despite his recruiting prowess, Mike London would find himself on the hot seat after a meltdown season like that, and Virginia fans might start to lose their patience.
Could Virginia return to a bowl game for only the second time under London? I don't see why not. With eight home games on the schedule, it is not unthinkable for the Hoos to take four of those games and win a couple on the road to become bowl eligible at 6-6. Most fans would sign up for a 6-6 season given the current circumstances of the program, and anything above .500 for this team would just be icing on top of the cake. With a stellar 2014 recruiting class on the way, Virginia could build some momentum heading into a potentially breakout year.
So how do the UVA fans judge the team's play this season? Are expectations swaying one way or the other? Let us know the pulse of Wahoo Nation.