Dec. 11, 2000
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - A tearful George Welsh retired as Virginia's football coach Monday, 19 years after turning the Cavaliers from a laughingstock into a contender.
"I am now and will be forever a Wahoo," the 67-year-old coach said before pausing to collect himself. "It's time for this old salt to sail off into the sunset."
Welsh came to Virginia from Navy to take over a program so bad its team was mockingly referred to as the "Cadavaliers." He leaves as the winningest coach in Atlantic Coast Conference history, and one whose mark on the university can be seen in the stadium he leaves behind.
"The best measure of a coach's impact is what was and what is," athletic director Terry Holland said. "This stadium will stand forever as a very visible reminder of the legacy that coach Welsh has left us."
When Welsh arrived at Virginia in 1982, the Cavaliers had a 33-121-11 record in the ACC and had never been to a bowl. Since his arrival, they are 85-51-3 and will be making their 12th bowl appearance this month. His career record is 189-131-4.
Their home field, Scott Stadium, also was enhanced by an $86 million expansion and renovation in the offseason. The work pushed capacity to more than 60,000, and has made the stadium an important recruiting tool.
But Welsh said he decided after wavering all season that he doesn't have the energy and drive to return.
"Without doubt, this has been the most difficult decision of my coaching career," he said. "I admit I changed my mind on this many times over the past two weeks, but by this past weekend, it was clear to me that I should retire."
This season marked the first in three years that Welsh did not have back surgery in the offseason, but Welsh said "something happened" and he found he didn't have the energy to stay awake as late as he once had.
"It runs the whole gamut of things," he said of his decision, "what one has to do as a head football coach at this level to be really good."
Welsh's contract went through the 2001 season, and he said he'd been offered a lucrative two-year extension and encouraged to return.
But Welsh said the frustrating season had caused him trouble sleeping and been "physically and emotionally the toughest of my career."
Virginia (6-5) failed to win seven games in the regular season for the first time since 1986, and will need to beat Georgia in the Oahu Bowl to extend to 14 its string of seasons with at least seven victories. Only Florida State, Nebraska and Michigan can match that run.
Holland said the next few weeks should be a time to honor Welsh.
"We used to be cannon fodder," said Holland, who was the basketball coach when Welsh, then 48, arrived after nine years of success at Navy.
He said the task of replacing Welsh will be "gargantuan," and that he expects school president John Casteen will look for someone with Division I-A experience, preferably with knowledge of the school and the state.
Among those thought to be high on the list of candidates are Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, a former offensive coordinator under Welsh who left before the 1996 Carquest Bowl to take over the Eagles' program.
Welsh originally promised to announce his decision within a week of the Cavaliers' 42-21 loss at Virginia Tech on Nov. 25. He said he finally decided on Friday, and only told his coaching staff earlier Monday.
"I think they were surprised because I gave no indication I was going to do
this," he said. "We were into recruiting and working on the game plan."
Cavalier Football Notebook: UNC WeekFootball10/21/16At 3 p.m. Saturday, UVA (2-4, 1-1) hosts Coastal Division rival North Carolina (5-2, 3-1) in an ACC football game at Scott Stadium.Lucas Playing Key Role in TurnaroundField Hockey10/20/16Carrera Lucas' play at goalkeeper has helped No.9 Virginia, which hosts No. 7 Louisville on Friday night, win seven of its past eight games.Media Day NotebookMen's Basketball10/18/16Virginia, which advanced to the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight in 2015-16, opens the season Nov. 11 against UNC Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Director of News Content
A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
Jeff White: Football Notebook -- UNC Week
Football | 10/21/2016
At 3 p.m. Saturday, UVA (2-4, 1-1) hosts Coastal Division rival North Carolina (5-2, 3-1) in an...
ACC Football Tailgate Tour Heads to UVA
Football | 10/19/2016
Virginia’s football game against North Carolina for renewal of the “South’s...
UVA Hosts No. 22 North Carolina on Saturday
Football | 10/17/2016
Virginia and North Carolina will meet for the 121st time in the South’s Oldest Rivalry, a...
Kickoff for UVA-Louisville Set for Noon
Football | 10/17/2016
The Atlantic Coast Conference announced the start time for Virginia’s Oct. 29 home game...
Jeff White: Consistency Eludes Cavaliers in Loss
Football | 10/15/2016
Virginia's two-game winning streak ended Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium, where Pitt rallied ...
Virginia Falls to Pittsburgh 45-31
Football | 10/15/2016
Virginia scored 28 first-half points, including two touchdowns from Albert Reid, but Pittsburgh...
Jeff White: Cook Finds Purpose in New Role
Football | 10/14/2016
Linebacker Malcolm Cook, out for medical reasons this fall, helps signal in plays to Virginia's...
Coach's Corner with Bronco Mendenhall Returns Tonight
Football | 10/18/2016
The weekly "Coach's Corner with Bronco Mendenhall" radio program, presented by Virginia Farm...
- Online Stores