By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Oct. 10 -- Al Groh participates each Monday in a radio call-in show, during which fans can ask the Virginia football coach questions. Some of those queries this Monday, two days after Virginia had lost, 31-21, to East Carolina, were biting.
Groh has the option of bypassing those questions. But he took them all because, as he said, he's the expert in any fan-coach exchange.
"I understand fans. I don't think fans understand coaches," Groh said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "I know what being a fan is like. I don't think those people know what my life is like, what I do, why we do what we do. It's a great country. In this country, anybody can say what they want whether they know the facts or not. That's the great thing about America."
As he has done before, Groh said the criticism doesn't bother him.
"Let me put it to you this way," Groh said. "I fly on a lot of airplanes. Just because I fly on airplanes doesn't qualify me to be a pilot. I own stocks. Just because I own stocks doesn't mean I have any idea how and why my broker does things. I don't have any opinion on what the pilot should do, whether he should have flown at 35,000 feet, 15,000 feet. I don't have any opinion. I say, 'He's proven. He's got all the facts. He knows what he's doing. He knows a lot more about it than I do. So let him fly the plane.'
"I understand a fan. I'm a fan, too. That's why I understand fans. I'm a fan, too. It's what we have in common. What we don't have in common is most fans aren't coaches. I think that's reasonable, don't you?"
That's not what bothers him, though. What bothers Groh is an offense that is ranked 115th out of 119 Division I-A teams.
"Nobody on this Earth," Groh said, "is having less fun than I am."Friendly Rivals
Virginia wide receiver Deyon Williams could have played in college with Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson, his best friend growing up in Upper Marlboro. Then-Terps recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley attended one of Williams's high school games at Suitland with Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen in tow and afterward offered Williams a scholarship, with a stipulation.
"They told me at the time that they had X amount of receivers and that they didn't know if I was going to play early or what position I was going to play," Williams said. "If Maryland really wanted me to come there, then I would have come there."
Williams loved watching LaMont Jordan, another Suitland alum, as a kid and wanted to play at Maryland with Wilson, but he holds no hard feelings.
"I like people who are honest with me, keep it real," Williams said. "That's one thing, as a man, I always like people who are honest."
Even after Williams went to Virginia, Wilson tried to lure him to Maryland.
"It's just that type of relationship," Wilson said. "He's not my best friend. He's my brother."
During Williams's first year, as he had difficulty adjusting to college life, Wilson told him he should come to Maryland if he wanted to transfer, but Williams told him he wanted to stick it out.
Wilson has covered Williams in previous meetings, with Williams catching five passes for 62 yards in the Terps' 45-33 win last season. After that game, Williams took a verbal beating back home.
"If we lose, it'll be hard for me to go home," Williams said. "I'll hear about it for the rest of the year."
Wilson confirmed as much.
"This is for all the marbles," Wilson said. "This is senior year and winner takes all. This is bragging rights for life."
Staff writer Marc Carig contributed from College Park.