Virginia football coach Dick Bestwick says he is appalled by the way many schools and athletes are paying lip service to the academic part of college life.

"Many scholarship players are attending college just for one purpose - to play college football and try to make the pros," Bestwick told The Washington Post. "They don't care about academics and neither do the coaches.

"Now I'm not condoning it or condemning it but the situation exists. That's why you see so many NFL players without degrees."

Bestwick comments came during an interview in which he discussed his impressions of the Virginia coaching position after a year on the job. His team compiled a 2-9 record.

He admitted that his task of turning around Virginia's football fortunes is proving more difficult than he anticipated, mainly because of more stringent academic requirements at Virginia than at many of the schools he must recruit against.

"It's going to take us three-four-five years to get it done, if we ever do," he said. "I won't make a prediction but I think if it possibly can be done, we'll do it."

He stopped short of singling out specific schools for their academic lapses, but it was obvious he considered most colleges in the Atlantic Coast Conference to be in this category.

"I realize now that the difference in academics at different institutions is quite incredible," he said."Not just the difference in how everyone gets people into school, but even after they are there the pressures are different.

"I've found that more and more college athletes are getting accepted to play college football who couldn't get into school before.

"The reason? It's a combination of things: the 2.0 rule; high schools not being as demanding; some psychological things. If we had the 800 rule, or the 1.6 rule again, we'd be very competitive. It would make things a lot easier."

It comes down to a matter of academics, he said. Virginia demands athletes to be students. Many other schools don't.

As a result, Bestwick has found himself struggling to sign the small number of quality blue chippers who also can qualify academically at Virginia. It is this limited recruiting pool, he feels, that will slow the school's progress on the football field.

"They said we would go through a rebuilding program, but that a lie," he said. "What we have here isn't a rebuilding program, it's a development program. We're starting from scratch, building on pretty much nothing.

"If you are rebuilding, you have to have something to begin with. In fact, you have to have something previously developed. That way you can expand upon the foundation.

"But there wasn't a foundation here. There is not an upper class to give us stability or leadership. So we have to develop that too. Everything has to be done from scratch."

The success of the reconstruction program will rest almost entirely on the succes of his recruiting. Bestwick feels he had a fine recruiting effort this year.

"Of the top 25 players in Virginia, for the first time the University of Virginia signed most of them. Of the top five, we got two of them and they were the only ones we could get into school.

"There are nine players we signed who weren't sought by at least four other top schools. We beat Maryland, Notre Dame, Penn State and Pitt for some people and I think we competed favorably with the other ACC schools."

But when you compare how Virginia did against Maryland, for example, the Cavaliers' recruiting takes on a different hue.

Of the players Maryland signed, 12 were not on Virginia's list. Another group could not get into Virginia. And five blue chippers sided with the Terrapins.

"If we can get those five kids instead of having them go somewhere else," said Bestwick, "we'll be able to get competitive. If we don't, we won't. It's that simple."

Bestwick was brought to Virginia from Georgia Tech, where he was a highly regarded assistane coach. He was considered an ideal man for the job, a combination leader-motivator-intellectual, to replace Sonny Randle, who was fired.

In his first year he beat only Lehigh and Wake Forest. He enters his second season trying to replace eight offensive starters and bolster a defense that gave up 416 yards a game.

"I thought we could have won five or six games last year but I don't know if we have a shot at that many this season," he said. "The schedule is harder. We have Texas in the second game and that is exactly the team we don't need at this stage of our program.

"I really thought we had more quality players here than we had. Actually, the senior class of last year was the best of the classes we inherited. That's why we have such a problem right now. We might have only 14 junior and seniors playing this year."

So far Bestwick says, he has felt no pressure from the alumni or athletic administration. "Everyone has been extremely patient right down the line," he said. "It's been incredible."

"I just have to watch myself. I don't want this job to get the best of me mentally. Sometimes you want to succeed so greatly that you do things you aren't proud of. I don't want that to ever happen with me and so far it hasn't.

"If I don't go bananas or something like that, I think they will give me the time to do the job. And I desparately want to do it. Everyone thought it was impossible; they told me that and who wouldn't want to accomplish the impossible?"

So Bestwick keeps working, although he realizes he probably will start one of four freshmen recruits at quarterback.

"Can you imagine a major college like us not having a quarterback? But we don't. That's why it's going to take time."