Drew Schuett admits he's been forced to change his goals since he transferred to the University of Virginia four years ago.
"When I first got here my goal was to play at least .500 ball by my junior year," the senior cornerback said yesterday. "I thought by then we'd be able to do that.
"But now I just take everything game by game and try and play as well as I can each game. All I want to do now is win that first game."
Losing football isn't unusual at UVA - the Cavaliers have had one winning season in 25 years. But it's a little harder to take for Schuett, because he spent his freshman year with the Yankees of college football: Notre Dame.
"I knew when I made up my mind to transfer it would be different," he said with a laugh. The difference is like night and day, but Schuett claims to have few regrets about his move.
Since Schuett arrived on the Virginia campus in 1975, the Cavaliers have compiled a record of 4-29-1, including last week's season-opening 14-0 loss at Wake Forest. In addition, they will go into tomorrow's game with Navy as heavy underdogs and will be picked to lose in virtually every game theyplay this season.
"If I had known we would win only four games my first three years in school here I would've thought twice before I moved," Schuett said. "But that doesn't mean I regret coming here. I've just been forced to change my goals. So has the team."
For the present, the Cavaliers' goal is respectability. Since Schuett arrived during the last year of Sonny Randle's ill-fated two-year regime, Virginia has consistently been ranked among the nation's worst 10 major-college teams.
Randle was fired at the end of 1975 - which Schuett sat out because of his transfer - and Dick Bestwick took over a program that had been left a complete shambles.
"I think most of the players felt that what really hurt Coach Randle were the promises he had made," Schuett said. "There was just no way he could live up to them. What happened to him was really inevitable."
Under Bestwick, the Cavaliers have played more competitive football - the days of 61-10 losses to Wake Forest are gone - but have not played winning football.
"Whenever we go out to play, I feel like we need to play to the very top of our capabilities to have a chance to win" Schuett said. "We've improved the quality of our athletes here the last few years, but so have the other schools in the ACC. We still have to play near perfect ball to win against almost anyone.
Schuett has not lost his optimism but he hinted that Virginia's program must receive some help from nonfootball people if it is to succeed at any point in the future.
"Given the right circumstances, Virginia can win in the ACC," he said. "But right now I don't feel everything here is conductive to winning. The people closest to the program want a winner but there needs to be a commitment from other crucial people to produce the elements needed here."
If Virginia does have a winner someday it will be long after Schuett is gone from the program. He came to Virginia as a quarterback, but was moved to cornerback after four games and has started at that spot ever since. He also plays baseball in the spring.
He was recruited as a quarterback by Notre Dame but was a defensive back during the 1974 season, Ara Parseghian's last season with the Irish.
Going from a team that won nine games in one season to Virginia is something Schuett has never completely adjusted to. "I just can't think of myself as a loser, no matter what," he said. "I know we're considered one of the worst 10 teams in the country but I keep pushing. I keep trying to get back to the heights. But I also try to be realistic and just play every game hard.
"I guess the one good thing about being in the bottom 10 is that old saying: "The only pace for you to go . . .'"