If you took a survey of the Twitter accounts of Virginia football fans last Saturday, you would have seen a range of emotions: anger, apathy, cynicism, and resignation. Social media, after all, is great at bringing out the spiciest of hot takes, and Virginia's loss to Pitt provided plenty of ammunition. There was anger and frustration over Virginia’s inexcusable slow start. There was cynicism about early defensive gaffes, the "power rushing attack," and special teams miscues. Finally, there was resignation over another close loss.
The tone changed slightly after the final whistle. I turned off the TV and thought to myself, "meh, it wasn't that bad." Virginia hadn’t embarrassed itself. Heck, the Wahoos had a chance to tie the game in the last minute. Other than the slow start, there really weren't many reasons to break out the pitchforks. The lads fought gamely. They’d get ‘em next time. Onwards and upwards, and all that.
The more upbeat tone continued throughout the weekend. One publication wrote: "UVA football wasn't a dumpster fire today, at least." The Daily Progress added that "Mike London hasn't lost this team." Here at Streaking The Lawn, we noted that the Wahoos showed "positive signs" in the loss.
Sadly, I can't help but think these reactions are just more evidence of how far the program has fallen and how deeply our expectations have been lowered. Pitt's a decent team that will challenge for the divisional crown. But they aren't ranked world-beaters. They aren't ranked and they didn't receive a single Top-25 vote this week despite being 5-1. This was a game Virginia could have won and a game Mike London had to have. And the Wahoos failed to come through...again.
Twenty years ago, a loss against a fair to middlin' ACC squad would have left Virginia fans grumbling that George Welsh had lost his edge. Ten years ago, a loss like Saturday’s would have poured gasoline on fans’ frustrations with the broken promises of the Groh regime. But this time around, Saturday's loss left us happy things didn't go as badly as they could have. If that's not resignation...I don't know what is.
It was heartening to see Beta Bridge painted again Saturday night by students who want a new coach. It's good to know that the fire still exists and that the students are starting to find their voice. It's good to see that this fan base, beat down after 7 losing seasons in the last 9 years, still has a pulse. Here's hoping that when the time comes to make tough decisions, the administration will recognize that fans are demanding better than "not as bad as it could have been."