College football is a competitive business. When teams do not live up to certain expectations, no matter how lofty, questions begin to arise surrounding the coach. With only seven wins in the past two seasons, the pressure is on for Virginia to show the program is on the right track.
That pressure falls on the players who know they are not only playing for their school, but for head coach Mike London as well.
“This is a bottom-line business. Either you’re winning or losing,” said senior wide receiver Canaan Severin Monday during the ACC Kickoff. “If someone is losing, they’re on the hot seat. That’s just the way it is.”
But that may not be a bad thing.
The relationship the Cavaliers have with their coach has actually served as motivation to work harder this offseason.
“[London] really tries to take care of us, he always looks out for us,” said senior defensive tackle David Dean. “It’s more than football with him. ...That kind of pushes us to go that much harder out there for him, really play for him and kind of keep him from being fired from his job.”
Love for the coach alone, however, will not be enough. The Cavaliers will have to get results on the field.
Virginia has only one bowl appearance in the past seven seasons, but this is a team that feels like it is going in the right direction.
“Two years ago we won two games,” Severin said. “We knew we had to step it up last summer. There was a lot on the line. That’s what we did. We got five games out of it last year.”
Reaching a bowl this year will show the continued improvement of a team that went from two wins in 2013 to five in 2014. Breaking a three-season bowl drought will be difficult, but seems within reach for a team that came just one win short last year.
“We really came closer together last season,” Dean said. “That’s something we built on and is something we’re going to continue to keep building on.”