Nelson Yarbrough was a close friend of Randle. They played on the same Virginia teams in the mid-1950s and their families have close ties. Of all the Cavalier alumni who seemed likely to abandon the football program when Randle was fired, Yarbrough would have been at the head of the list.

Instead, he is now president of a Virginia booster organization, a season ticket holder and a yearly contributor to the athletic department. And he is still a friend of Randle.

"I was involved when Sonny got hired and when he got fired," said Yarbrough. "He is my friend, but he just muffed a great opportunity. He blew it. It's the simple. It tore me apart to go to games on Saturday and see what was happening. It was a sad time."

But Yarbrough says the program "is bigger than any one individual. A lot of people have given up and stopped buying season tickets and giving money. I just couldn't do that. I love this school too much."

Virginia alumni have all those losing seasons to use as a reason to stop supporting the football team. Yet this year the alumni athletic support organization expects to raise $800,000, more than a winner like Maryland will bring in. Yarbrough says if the Cavaliers ever stop losing, the fund raising potential "is unlimited. People will go crazy."

Many of those potential large donors went to school with Yarbrough during the days when Virginia had only 7,500 students and campus life thrived in a small-college atomosphere. When the products of this environment graduated, they took with them a love for the school and the community which has been sustained despite the athletic misfortunes.

"We all feel indebted to the town and the school," he said. "When I was here, you could have a scholarship and still work part-time. The townspeople gave me jobs as a cashier and in a restaurant. They got me through school and I want to pay them back."

Yabrough now a prominent Charlottsville dentist, and the rest of the more active alumni say they are willing to let Bestwick have time - "the run of his contract" - and hope that his low-key approach will improve the team's fortunes.

"Whether he is the right man - who knows?" said Yarbrough. "But he has gained the confidence of a lot of people, especially those who put up the money.

"I know that my life has been good, except for football. I have a good job, I went to a good school, but we didn't win when I was playing and we don't win now. If we ever do, I think I could be very contented the rest of my days."