Groh's concern: Avoid getting sacked

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GREENSBORO, N.C.

Seven ACC football programs have changed head coaches within the last five years. Do I hear eight? Nine? How 'bout 10, 11 or the entire dozen?

Any Sotheby's auctioneer worth his staccato would relish this firesale, where the lone implausible scenario seems short-term stability.

Think about it. Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest and Florida State employ the conference's longest-tenured big whistles.

But for how long?

Florida State and Maryland already have designated the successors to Bobby Bowden and Ralph Friedgen, respectively; Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer turns 63 this season, Wake Forest's Jim Grobe attracts suitors annually, and Virginia's Al Groh has the posse nipping at his Nikes.

Oh, and does anyone believe that third-year Miami coach Randy Shannon, 12-13 to date, is secure? Or that teams from the NFL and college will cease tempting North Carolina's Butch Davis?

No matter the resolutions, just don't blame coaching turnover on the ACC's failure to produce a top-five team since 2000.

At first blush, that appears counterintuitive. Stable leadership strikes most as a cornerstone of championships.

Just consider Beamer. Entering his 23rd year at his alma mater, he's poised to guide Virginia Tech to a 17th consecutive bowl season.

"He's just been there so long and recruited so well," Bowden said Monday at the ACC's preseason news conferences. "They're just a force every year."

Indeed, Beamer's run at Tech, not to mention Bowden's 34-years-and-counting at Florida State, are beyond remarkable. But Bowden's 2000 bunch is the ACC's last top-five team.

Meanwhile, eight of the last nine Associated Press national championships have been won by coaches with fewer than five years' tenure: Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Miami's Larry Coker, Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Southern California's Pete Carroll (two), Florida's Urban Meyer (two) and Louisiana State's Les Miles.

The exception was Texas' Mack Brown — thank you, Vince Young! — in 2005.

Groh clearly is the most likely ACC coach to be sacked. He's preparing for his ninth season and a losing record in 2009 would be Virginia's third in the last four years.

Attending media Monday picked the Cavaliers fifth among six Coastal Division teams, in which case bank on an exit.

"It's not about me," Groh said politely but firmly about his status. "It's about the team."

Does he mention the obvious to his players?

"I don't address it with me," he said, "so why would I address it with them."

The sure sign of a coach in trouble is staff upheaval. Five of Groh's nine assistant coaches departed during the offseason, at least two involuntarily.

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