Al Groh resigned Saturday to take the coaching job at Virginia, jolting a New York Jets team that must look for its seventh coach in 11 years.
Groh spent just one season with the Jets after Bill Parcells resigned as coach. He now heads back to his alma mater to replace George Welsh, who retired. He accepted a seven-year contract that could be worth $5-million.
"I realize there will be some criticism of this, but only I know my heart," Groh said in a statement released by the Jets. "This provides the type of long-term security and stability not commonly found in the NFL nowadays.
"The University of Virginia is my school.
"I wore that jersey, and it means a great deal to me. My mom lives there, and my dad is buried there."
Groh's departure was in keeping with the Jets' coaching history. He got the job when Parcells resigned last January and Bill Belichick, Parcells' hand-chosen successor, quit after one day and wound up coaching New England.
Parcells is the chief of football operations, and he has hinted he will continue in that role.
Groh went 9-7 after a 4-0 start, but the team lost its last three games. A victory in any of them would have earned a playoff berth.
The university confirmed the hiring and said Groh will be introduced at a news conference Friday.
"Coach Groh has enjoyed success at every level of football and certainly understands and embraces the challenge of building on the foundation laid by Coach Welsh," Virginia athletic director Terry Holland said.
"His vision for the future of Virginia football that he described to us last night was inspiring. We are delighted that he has agreed to come home."