So far, his friends have been kind to Gene Corrigan. None of them has referred to the current expansion of Virginia's football stadium as Corrigan's Folly, at least not so he could hear them.

But that day could come soon. And he knows it.

"Oh, sure, I know people think this is a mistake, like putting the cart before the horse," said Corrigan, the school's athletic director. "If it doesn't work out, I'll be wide open for criticism, but it won't be the first time.

Corrigan does admit that it seems a bit odd for Virginia, of all places, to be enlarging its football complex.

This is the same school that has had one winning season in the last 24, that has had three head coaches in the last five years, that saw its program fall apart so badly Corrigan admits "we just go through the crawling stage last year" with a 2-9 record.

This dismal history had kept Scott Stadium from beign filled to capacity on all except a handful of occasions even at its present capacity of 33,000. And when expansion is finished before the 1978 season, Corrigan will have yet another 10,000 seats to allocate.

"I call the expansion an investment in Virginia's football future," he explains. "When we built University Hall for our basketball program, people thought we were crazy because our teams were so bad. But now the facility can't meet our ticket demands. I hope the same will happen in football."

The stadium expansion is the one completely optimistic symbol left in the Virginia football program. Otherwise, the days of bragging coaches and lofty predictions appear over. The Cavaliers instead have entered what could be called the Era of Credibility.

"We're keeping our mouths shut," said Corrigan. "I know it's taken a long time for us to learn our lession but I think we have."

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Virginia's football is that the school, the alumni and the players have not totally abandoned the cause. It would have been easy to do, especially during the dark days of the Sonny Randle era. But a hardcore nucleus had remained, waiting for that day when the Cavaliers regain football respectability.