- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ATLANTA | Al Groh says he received lots of advice about retiring and enjoying life after he was fired by Virginia last year.

Groh, 66, said Tuesday he reached a quick decision after talking about his future with his wife, Ann.

“That is what I do, that is who I am,” Groh said of coaching. “It lets me be the person that I am.

“Ann and I spoke very quickly afterward, and despite what many people were saying to me … I very quickly said to Ann, ‘I appreciate that advice, I could probably retire from football right now, but I am just not ready to retire from me.’”

Groh, in his first year as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator, said he won’t have extra motivation to beat his old team and alma mater when the Yellow Jackets play Virginia on Saturday.

“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 any difference what color jersey the team you’re coaching for wears,” he said. “All that counts is the result.”

Groh can provide Georgia Tech a detailed scouting report of Virginia’s players and their skills, but he said the advantage belongs to coach Mike London and the Cavaliers.

Groh hired London as a defensive assistant at Virginia in 2001. He says London and other Virginia assistants know everything about the 3-4 defensive scheme he now is installing at Georgia Tech.

Groh said he can’t change his defense now.

“Especially since we’re in the process of installing our system, to make a radical change would just really throw our compass off,” Groh said.

“But clearly the advantage is on the Virginia side. I say that because I taught our defense we’re playing here to (London’s staff). They have all my playbooks.”

Groh said he London and his defensive coaches “sat through endless hours of meetings with me discussing defense, making gameplans and analyzing our performance.

“There’s no dilemma up there figuring out how Al Groh thinks.”

Groh said he has remained close to some of his former Virginia players.

“I am not sentimental toward institutions,” he said. “Whether they are NFL institutions or NCAA institutions, my sentiments, my emotions, my affections, and my appreciation is for individuals. As a result, most of my best friends in this world are people that I coached or coached with. Nothing changes that.

“I have much appreciated the players that have stayed in touch with me the past few months, so that is why I say I look forward to developing those relationships as they move on.”

Virginia linebacker Ausar Walcott said he won’t be thinking about his former coach being across the field.

“I’m just going into it looking at it like it’s another game,” Walcott said. “I respect coach Groh. He’s a real good guy, so I’m just going to go into it like it was any other game, like he wasn’t there.”

Added Virginia center Anthony Mihota: “Honestly, I’ve never thought about who the defensive coordinator was when we’ve played other teams. I’m not going to start thinking about it now.”

Groh was 59-53 in nine years as Virginia’s coach. He was fired after a 3-9 record in 2009.

He was 26-40 as Wake Forest’s coach in the 1980s and was 9-7 as the New York Jets’ coach in 2000, his only year as an NFL head coach. He was an NFL assistant under Bill Parcells with the New York Giants and New England Patriots.

There’s a lot of Virginia in Groh’s family. One of his sons was a captain on the Virginia team. Another son is a graduate of Virginia’s law school.

“That’s what we are,” Groh said. “We’re Virginia graduates. You can’t change history. I’m proud to acknowledge it. … We’re Virginia graduates, but right now I’m a Georgia Tech man.”