GREENSBORO, N.C. — At one podium sat the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading returning rusher and the reigning national interception king.
Virginia’s combination of Kevin Parks and Anthony Harris put the Cavaliers right up with the rest of the league in terms of power duos at ACC Kickoff.
But the two just didn’t draw a crowd like Florida State’s Jameis Winston and P.J. Williams.
The Seminoles are defending national champions. The Wahoos have won all of six games in the last two seasons.
UVa football 2014 officially began Sunday at the Grandover Resort as Parks and Harris spent their afternoons with media members. The All-ACC running back and All-American safety took the first of several questions concerning the future of their coach, Mike London.
And, yes, they were plenty prepared.
“I’ll be lying to you if I didn’t hear that kind of stuff about Coach London,” Parks said. “But Coach London didn’t lose the game. The players lost the game. We went 2-10. Our job is to get back to winning and help Coach London out. We have to do the little things right. Those things add up and help us win.”
London is 18-31 in four seasons on the Scott Stadium sideline. His latest campaign failed to include a league win, something that hadn’t happened at Virginia since 1981.
Hot seat talk is very much relevant.
Parks, a redshirt senior, and Harris, a true senior, were part of London’s first recruiting classes. The thought of his exit has brought everything full circle.
“Coach London, we built a very strong connection with him,” Harris said. “He embodies some of the things we’re looking for as a coach.
“As a coach, it’s about winning. That’s how we want to pay him back. He’s impacted a lot of our lives as far as signing us to come here, not just to pursue a career in football, but pursue a career in whatever educational field you want to do.
“We feel like it’s very important. ... Us being [in] our last year, we feel like it’s important to have a great year for him so he can stick around.”
Parks, who ran for 1,031 yards and scored 11 touchdowns last season, is on the Doak Walker Award (best running back) watch list. Harris, who made eight picks in 2013, is on numerous watch lists, including the Bednarik Award (nation’s best defensive player) and Walter Camp Award (player of the year).
At ACC Kickoff, only four other schools — Florida State, Duke, Louisville, Miami — were represented by duos on multiple watch lists.
In other words, the Cavs aren’t totally behind in the skills department.
“You look back at it and we’ve had great recruiting classes come in each year,” Harris said, “five-star guys, four-star guys, guys who come in less recruited and making big plays and having a big impact.
“As far as individual talent, when you look around, we have just as good of players as any other team in the ACC. It’s all about how well we play as a team.”
Media members turned in their ballots Sunday. The league standings projection will be released Monday.
The Wahoos are expected to be in last or next-to-last in the Coastal Division.
“We’ll take that,” Parks said. “We’ll take the backseat. We deserve to take the backseat. We went 2-10, guys not even picking us to do good. So we’ll take that and use that as motivation, motivation on our shoulders.”
And for the man on the sideline.
“Coach London, he looks out for us,” Parks said. “He looks out for his players. Just to give back in return, we got to play hard for him. We got to do everything right, everything in our will to win games this year, to keep that man around.”