Virginia running backs Coach Mike Faragalli confirmed Tuesday night he has been relieved of his duties and will not return to the football program next season.
Coach Mike London informed him of the decision Monday, and Faragalli said he wasn’t surprised by the news. He declined to discuss any other specifics about the meeting.
It appears, however, that Faragalli’s dismissal is the result of a run game that didn’t produce as expected this season and all indications are that it could be the first of several changes to London’s coaching staff following Virginia’s second 4-8 season in the past three years.
Though the Cavaliers featured a quartet of talented tailbacks, most notably senior Perry Jones and sophomore Kevin Parks, they finished the 2012 season ranked No. 101 in the country in rushing offense. London indicated Sunday on his end-of-the-year teleconference that he hoped Virginia’s offense would feature a dominating rushing attack.
But more often than not, the Cavaliers were inconsistent despite the personnel they featured in the backfield and the presence of two NFL-caliber offensive tackles (Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses). Virginia had seven games, including the final three of the season, in which it failed to average four yards per carry. Against Virginia Tech in the regular season finale, the Cavalier rushed for a season-low 30 yards.
However, Faragalli said some of the blame for the team’s struggles on the ground shouldn’t fall on his unit.
“For me, a lot of times it was frustrating,” he said. “Those are the best, most talented guys that we have and I just sometimes wished we had used them more basically. I don’t want to say anything more than that. It’s been a very frustrating year knowing that those guys are there ready to go and sometimes their number wasn’t called and sometimes it was. And when it was, I thought they played great.”
Jones and Parks saw their combined rushing yardage decrease by more than 400 yards from a year ago. It also didn’t help that sophomore Clifton Richardson was hampered by a hamstring injury for a majority of the season.
Faragalli said he contacted Jones, Parks and sophomore Khalek Shepherd Sunday to break the news that he wouldn’t be back next season. As of Tuesday night, he hadn’t been able to reach out to Richardson.
“As far as I’m concerned, those guys played their [butts] off every week,” Faragalli said. “They played hard, played with passion and were probably the best players on the field most weeks as far as production and getting the job done. I’m really proud of those guys.”
Faragalli came to Virginia in 2010 with London after serving as Richmond’s offensive coordinator for two years, helping the Spiders win the 2008 Football Championship Subdvision championship. During his first two seasons in Charlottesville, running back Keith Payne led the ACC with 14 rushing touchdowns and Jones and Parks followed that up by combining for more than 1,600 rushing yards in 2011.
“I’m excited about the next chapter. I’m looking forward to it,” Faragalli said. “Whether it’s a coordinator or not, that doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s quarterbacks or running backs, that doesn’t even matter. Division 1, 2, 3 or 4, it doesn’t matter.
“It’s more about the players that you coach, the people that you work with every day for 18 hours a day and getting to a place where I’m happy every day. I know it’s gonna happen again.”