Groh goes against alma mater

ATLANTA -- Like any football coach, Al Groh wasn't thrilled about being fired after nine years as head coach at Virginia following last season.

That doesn't mean Georgia Tech's first-year defensive coordinator will view Saturday's visit from the Cavaliers to Bobby Dodd Stadium as a grudge match.

"When you're in competition and you've been in it for a while and you're a veteran of competition, it really doesn't make a difference what color jersey the team you're coaching for wears," said Groh, who has also been head coach with Wake Forest and the NFL's New York Jets, as well as serving as an assistant with the New York Giants and New England Patriots in his long career. "All that counts is the result. That's what I work for every week. ... So this will be the same for me as it's been for 41 years."

That also means Groh, who went 59-53 in his nine seasons while coaching at his alma mater, won't spend much time thinking about facing current Virginia coach Mike London, a former assistant to him, as well many current Cavaliers players he recruited.

Nor will he spend much time reflecting about the fact he is, himself, a Virginia alum, as are two of his sons.

"You can't change history," Groh said. "Myself and other members of my family, we're Virginia graduates. But right now, I'm a Georgia Tech man. This is my team. This is the team that's going to give me my sense of satisfaction (after a win) or my sense of loss on an ongoing basis.

"I'm not sentimental towards institutions, whether they're NFL or NCAA institutions. My sentiments and my emotions, my affections and my appreciation is for individuals. As a result, most of my best friends in this world are people I've coached or coached with. Nothing changes that."

On the surface, Groh's familiarity with the Virginia players might seem to be an advantage to Tech, especially given the fact the Cavaliers still run the same 3-4 defense he brought to the Yellow Jackets.

But as Groh himself pointed out, that familiarity runs both ways.

"We do what we do," Groh said. "Especially since we're in the process of installing our system (at Tech) to make a radical change right now, ... clearly the advantage is on the Virginia side.

"I say that because (No.) one, I taught our defense that we're playing to (London) and the secondary coach. They have all my playbooks and all my cut-ups. Those two coaches, as well as the linebackers coach, have sat through endless hours of meetings with me, discussing the defense, making game plans and analyzing our performance. So, there's no dilemma up there figuring out how Al Groh thinks. (Knowing Virginia's personnel) helps me, (but) I don't think that (Tech defensive end) Jason Peters or (linebacker) Brad Jefferson or (cornerback) Mario Butler or those guys have an intimate grasp of (the Cavalier offense)."