Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the future for our non-draftees

Yesterday I predicted a bright and sunny future for those of our players that did get drafted, right after predicting a bright and sunny weekend for those of our players that were in the draft. As it turned out I overrated the draft chances of nearly every single one of the players I made any sort of prediction on. I'm a fan, go figure.

Anyway, today, I will tell you all about our undrafted free agents. If I missed any, sue me; either that or just tell me nicely and I'll fix it. I'm getting the list from this site right here, which seems pretty thorough. Also I am not going to bother with the players going in for tryouts before they get signed, including, say, Byron Glaspy. I like thoroughness, and the likelihood of me missing a number of such players, combined with the unlikelihood of said tryout culminating in an NFL career, is reason enough for me not to worry about it.

Interestingly, we had more players actually get drafted than sign as undrafted FA's.

Oh, before I start: consider all of these as coming with the obvious caveat that the vast, screaming majority of undrafted free agents typically fail to make so much as a practice squad. Therefore when I talk about someone's likelihood of making a roster, that should be taken as "relative to the likelihood of the average undrafted free agent making the same roster." Anyway.

Antonio Appleby - Patriots

One of the best pieces of news here is that the Pats play a 3-4, so Appleby won't have to learn his way around first. I think if a 4-3 team had signed him, there's no way he'd have made it with that team, considering the odds that undrafted FA's face plus the learning curve of a new defense.

That said, not only did Appleby end up in the right defense, he also ended up on the right depth chart. The tough part is that the Pats' starting ILB's are set in stone, so there's no chance for anyone ahead of him to move up causing openings below etc. etc. The nice part is that the players listed as backups on the Pats' depth chart aren't setting any worlds on fire. One was a UDFA his own self just last year and made his way right into the lineup as a rookie. The other has a very thin resume. New England didn't sign any other linebackers after the draft and didn't draft any inside 'backers during it. Appleby, if he stays signed by fall camp and if the Patriots don't sign anyone else (that is another caveat that applies to all three of these, should have a chance to compete for one of those precious final roster spots. I think he can stick with the Patriots at the very least as a practice squad guy.

Alex Field - Giants

The Giants did sign another DE after the draft, and furthermore, drafted a guy who could slide up to play DE in the right situation. You might remember him. Field, therefore, is in direct competition at the very least with Penn State's Maurice Evans. The problem here is not the depth chart or the competition though - it's that Field really was not even a standout college player. Steady and unspectacular is how you'd describe him. He is bigger than most of the Giants' current defensive ends, so he's got that going for him, but not so big that a move inside is a viable option. Unfortunately I don't think Field has an NFL future.

Kevin Ogletree - Cowboys

Hu boy. Ogletree is going to be unfortunately remembered by UVA fans for quite some time as the quintessential don't-leave-early cautionary tale. Ogletree was compared to Tavon Mason immediately upon making his decision and again after the draft passed him by; the next Cavalier to unwisely leave early will assuredly conjure up Ogletree's name. It's a shame too because with so many standout WR's leaving the ACC this year, Ogletree had a terrific shot at making a real name for himself in conference play. Many of the usual arguments in favor of leaving early (could have gotten hurt next year, scheme might have caused production to drop, etc. etc.) are now easily fended off with, "Yeah, that would suck, he might not get drafted then." Worse yet, Ogletree didn't make anyone's list of "best undrafted free agents." (That's ESPN's - he also didn't make Yahoo's, which if I could find, I would link. Grrr.)

Anyway, the flip side is that Ogletree got all sorts of feedback telling him he'd be drafted. Somewhere. By someone. And not just the seventh round, either. And it was from the NFL advisory board, not some slimy agent. Everyone thought his leaving was a bad idea, but not because he wouldn't get drafted; it was because he wouldn't get drafted high enough. Even the most pessimistic people about his chances probably didn't see that one coming.

But, Ogletree was one of the first UDFA's to find a landing spot. And he landed somewhere with a lot of uncertainty. Despite some skepticism among the fans, Jerry Jones stood by his wide receiver corps and stayed true to his word; the Cowboys used only their last of 12 picks on a wide receiver. Jones appears to mean what he says about his WRs; problem is, not many other people think his WRs can live up to his faith in them. They certainly crapped out last year.

We know Ogletree's talents, and his ability to play NFL ball is much less in question than Appleby and Field. There's probably room for one more receiver besides the six already listed on the roster; if so, Ogletree is currently in direct competition for it with fellow UDFA Julian Hawkins and 7th round pick Manuel Johnson. Any more space for a WR depends on how long the guys currently there remain Jones' boys. The speed at which Ogletree got picked up by the Cowboys suggests there's probably some amount of interest around the league for his services, and Ogletree will find a home on a practice squad if he's not on a roster.

Programming note: I'm entertaining family this week starting tomorrow. So daily posts all three days this week are so unlikely as to be considered nigh-impossible. I will try and get one out there on one of these days, and just to make it up to you I'll put something up on Sunday too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

the future for our draftees

So tonight I'm here to tell you all about how the draft went, and if we're really lucky, I can get through this whole post without pissing and moaning about the Lions' performance this weekend. (A tight end? Seriously? You rank 33rd of 32 teams in rush defense and you pick up a tight end? Wait, no. Two tight ends?)


Anyway, you know how the draft went, per se. What I'm going to do is take a stab at figuring out whether or not our guys ended up in a good situation and at how much playing time we can expect for them.

Eugene Monroe - 8th overall to the Jaguars

Jacksonville's made no secret at all that they think their line needs upgrading. They've signed like 2 or 3 offensive tackles in the offseason, including aging Pro Bowler LT Tra Thomas, and then went out and drafted two more - after taking Monroe, they took Arizona's Eben Britton in the second round. Clearly, they're not happy about giving up 42 sacks last year. Monroe should be the highest-paid tackle on the roster, but Thomas has a few seasons left in the tank. Left tackle is not a place you want a platoon, so Monroe will face fierce competition in camp from a wily old veteran who simply didn't miss games in Philly and no doubt has absolutely zero intention of missing any with Jacksonville. A shift to right tackle may be in order for Monroe if he plays well but can't beat out Thomas and if the Jags decide they don't want to pay Monroe eight figures to park his happy self on the bench all season.

Clint Sintim - 45th overall to the Giants

This could be interesting to watch because Sintim got drafted to a 4-3 team. The Giants' nominal starters at OLB are Danny Clark, who started for them last year, and Michael Boley, who they signed from the Falcons on a $5 million-a-year deal in the offseason. Chances are, if Sintim plays his way into the starting lineup right out of training camp, it'll be at the expense of Clark. Physically, he's got the tools - right away, he's the Giants' biggest linebacker, just a shade smaller than holy terrors (and DEs) Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka. That's a plus for Sintim because it means he's not stuck at linebacker - if he shows all the skills but can't crack the lineup ahead of the veterans, he could find himself a role on the line in the occasional pass-rush situation. But the main drawback here is the 4-3 - Sintim will have to re-learn a lot of the basics and this could slow his development.

Cedric Peerman - 185th overall to the Ravens

Frankly, Peerman should not have fallen this far. That said, he landed on his feet in Baltimore. Barring any future free agent signings, the Ravens have only five RBs on the roster, including Peerman, which gives him a much better shot than most sixth-round picks at making the roster out of training camp. Where he's going to find the carries is a different story, because the Ravens split the carries last year among Leron McClain, Ray Rice, and Willis McGahee, and all got a substantial amount. There's probably not room for four in the regular rotation. But simply making a roster is a win for a sixth-round pick, and once there, he's probably only one injury away from being called on.

John Phillips - 208th overall to the Cowboys

Another decent landing spot. The Cowboys happen to be a team that likes to use two-TE formations. When it's only one, Jason Witten is the obvious choice, and when it's two, they put Martellus Bennett out there. Bennett was reasonably productive last year with 20 catches; Witten led the team in receptions with 81. Dallas' third TE last year was named Tony Curtis who had eight catches himself; Curtis is off to the Chiefs this year, so Phillips' main competition for that third TE spot will likely be Rodney Hannah, who's been on the Cowboys' practice squad the past two years. Right now that shapes up to be a two-way battle for one backup TE spot on the Cowboys' roster, which again is a situation better than a lot of sixth-round picks find themselves in.

So - four draftees. Stacking up next to the rest of the ACC, that's pretty good. Only UNC and Maryland had more with five each, and Maryland's fifth player taken was Dan Gronkowski, by the Lions, second-to-last overall, and the Lions are retarded, so that doesn't count. Clemson, GT, and Wake each produced four as well. Did you ever think you'd see the day when we put more players into the NFL draft than Miami, FSU, and Virginia Tech combined? Or when Miami produced one measly sixth-round pick after having that streak of first-rounders?

Some other schools that also placed four in the draft: Texas, Alabama
Some other schools that placed less than four in the draft: Michigan, Auburn, Tennessee, Nebraska, Florida(!)

So all in all, if you're looking through the draft through the lens of "UVA is awesome" then you have to be pretty happy about it. We were represented on the podium, well-represented elsewhere, and our guys fell into some pretty good spots. The Giants, Ravens, and Cowboys drafted nobody else at those positions, and they put our guys in position to succeed. I like it.

Tomorrow, we'll see about the undrafted guys. They get their moment too. I was going to do that today, but, it's running late, you guys need a post, and frankly there's no sense in writing one big post when two will do just fine. Saves me from having to rack my brains for ideas. And I'm missing the Tigers game.

Friday, April 24, 2009

mock drafts, take 3

(A couple quick Tony Bennett links to get you started. Here's one, here's another. They're interviews, pretty good, I enjoyed 'em you will too, go read, etc. etc.)

It is NFL Draft Eve. Like Christmas, only for grown-ups who didn't really grow up all the way. (I was going to say "like an adult Christmas" only that sounds like the holiday in which you get "adult toys" and I try to be PG-13, so, no. Just a small, probably unwanted window into my head.)

Anyway, my Christmas is already spoiled. I feel just like a kid who really really wants a ten-speed, overhears his parents saying "he'll love it, it's just what he wants", sneaks downstairs, and finds a two-speed girls' bike. I'm finally getting what I've always wanted, only it's a terrible version of it because Mom doesn't know the difference between bikes and the salesman said this was a really good one. That's what drafting Matt Stafford is like when your team has not had a good quarterback since the Eisenhower era.

Whatever, you don't want to hear about the Lions, you want to hear about UVA. So in this post (1) and this one (2) I dug up a bunch of mock drafts to see what the experts thought about Eugene Monroe's draft possibilities. Now that we pretty much know everything we're going to know about tomorrow, it's time for Take #3. Here are the mocks from around the GoogleTubes:

Chris Steuber (scout.com): 2nd - St. Louis Rams
James Alder (about.com): 4th - Seattle Seahawks
Pete Fiutak (cfn.com): 4th - Seattle Seahawks
Yahoo! Sports: 6th - Cincinnati Bengals
Don Banks (Sports Illustrated): 6th - Cincinnati Bengals
Evan Silva (NBC Sports): 6th - Cincinnati Bengals
Mel Kiper (ESPN.com): 7th - Oakland Raiders
Nolan Nawrocki (profootballweekly.com): 8th - Jacksonville Jaguars
Rob Rang (CBS Sports): 9th - Green Bay Packers

A few differences, notably, NBC's mock this time is done by someone who isn't Steve Silverman, who was dumb - Silverman's first mock omitted Monroe entirely. Which is why I've been dropping the top and bottom picks to find the averages. Having a sane writer do NBC's mock didn't help Monroe's average positioning, though. He's dropped a few slots in most of these, and has gone from the 5th pick to the 4th, and now, taking the averages and again dropping the top and bottom, the 6th pick.

A lot of the mocks now mention the occasional knee issues Monroe's had over the years, which was probably a factor. Andre Smith has also been creeping back up the boards. After the combine, a few writers openly wondered if Smith had worked himself right out of the first round, opening up more spots higher up for Monroe. Then they came to their senses and realized NFL teams, especially bad ones, generally don't let character issues get in the way of talent, and Smith is now solidly back in the top ten. So Monroe takes a little bit of a hit.

Me? Barring any trades, I think Monroe goes 6th, to the Bengals.

It won't be the Lions - Stafford is the pick, unless they don't get a deal done and take Aaron Curry instead. The Rams could use an OT, but Jason Smith seems to be generally considered the better pick by NFL types (witness the Yahoo draft, which ranks Monroe the #1 prospect in the whole draft but has the Rams taking J. Smith anyway.) The Chiefs are the most likely to deal their pick - if they don't, they'll take Curry, and if they do, that team didn't trade up for Monroe - probably Mark Sanchez. The Seahawks could take Monroe if both quarterbacks are gone, but I think they'll see this draft as a chance to get someone for grooming to succeed Matt Hasselbeck. Cleveland has a Pro Bowl LT already.

That brings us to Cincinnati. There's not the smallest doubt they need a left tackle - they gave up 51 sacks last year. (Hey, guess who gave up more? Ford Field turf - Matt Stafford. Matt Stafford, Ford Field turf. You guys will be seeing a lot of each other, up close and personal.) If my stab at mocking the draft is correct, the Bengals will have a choice between Monroe and Andre Smith. I'm guessing the Bengals are tired of being known as a rest stop on the road between college and the back of a squad car. Not to suggest Andre Smith is a likely candidate for prison himself, but character questions are character questions, and that tag is his, like it or not. Between the guy that's raised issues about himself and the guy who hasn't, the choice will be easy for the Bengals.

Since I'm in the business of making predictions, here are a couple more for the rest of our draftable types:

Clint Sintim - 2nd round
Cedric Peerman - 4th round
Kevin Ogletree - 5th round
John Phillips - 5th round
Antonio Appleby - 7th round

So there you go. Happy draft-watching. Me, I'll be spending most of the weekend desperately hoping the Lions remember they have a defense too (or actually, don't have a defense and need to draft one.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

recruiting board update

I hate myself for the lame title. I try to write interesting ones. Today that's all we got though. That and the below bits o' fluff.

- A little something on Brian Ownby's stint with the national U-20 team in U-20 World Cup qualifiers.

- Article from the CDP on Mike Timms.

- A look at how UVA figures to fare in the NFL draft this weekend. Totally unrelated complaint: I really hate that they moved the third round to the second day. The draft used to start at 12 noon and roll til about 8, which made it a perfect way to completely waste a Saturday afternoon and left plenty of evening time for, y'know, evening activities. It's not like you had to be in front of the TV the whole time - you just crack a beer, wander in and out of the room all day, and in my case, shoot a little pool because we had a pool table in the living room in college. 4-10 PM is a crappy time for the draft. Terrible. And the third and fourth rounds were the perfect border between first- and second-day picks. They messed it up, they really did.

- Speaking of the draft, I guess I wrote my please-pick-Eugene post too late. The Lions appear to be negotiating only with three players: Stafford, Curry, and Smith; and are trying very hard by the way to add to the rather impressive list of shitty picks they've made this decade.

OK, so I lied - that was kind of a lot. Anyway here's what's changed in the recruiting picture; the board is now duly updated for your viewing pleasure.

- Dropped QB Philip Sims (committed to Alabama (dammit)), WR Justin Hunter (there's really no interest on his end), and OT Mark Shuman (committed to Tech.) By all accounts the Shumans are a Hokie family through and through; Shuman was going to stay uncommitted for only as long as it took him to work up the nerve to call Latrell Scott and tell him no.

- Added LB Jordan Paskorz to blue. This could be interesting to watch; Paskorz names us in a top three ($) which is why he rockets to the blue section immediately; one of those other three is Michigan, however, from whom he claims an offer. The problem with that is that Michigan is one of those schools that, when they offer, it starts to attract other vultures to the show.

- Added OG Brandon Sacco to yellow. We're Sacco's first offer ($), but he plays at a high-profile place high school and chances are he'll wait to see what other offer letters show up on the kitchen table before he starts sorting anyone out.

- Added DE Dakota Royer and LB Chris Smith to red. Royer has like a zillion offers. Smith named a top four and none of those top four are located in Charlottesville, which ordinarily would mean he wouldn't even get added, but three of his four haven't actually offered yet (and at least one seems like kind of a pipe dream) and he is a teammate of Kevin Parks, so I added him without any reasonable expectation he'll actually commit here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Some people who don't watch, follow, or comprehend the existence of Virginia baseball put Matt Packer on the midseason Stopper of the Year list. Packer celebrated the achievement by pitching 8th-inning batting practice to Boston College - four runs later, his blown save total is twice his save total. I can think of a lot of things Packer's stopped, but none of them are late-inning opposition rallies. He needs to be one of those pitchers reserved for midweek games against out of conference opponents and situational relief in ACC games the outcome of which is not particularly in doubt before he does any more damage to our seeding.

The Tony Bennett hire gets a thumbs-up from Jason King at Yahoo.

The Mountain West Conference presented its playoff proposal to conference commissioners, who out of professional courtesy did not stick their fingers in their ears and go "LA LA LA LA LA." The MWC believes a playoff is the proper way to crown a true champion; in related news, the MWC will not be holding a playoff to determine the MWC champion.

Torrey Mack fluff. Heir apparent and all that. Funny passage:

"The reason for the high praise was on display Saturday during Virginia’s annual spring festival as Mack rushed six times for 18 yards..."
Wooooo three yards a carry woooooooo! No, I'm sure he looked great and all. However, 18 yards on six carries is decidedly not the reason for the high praise.

More spring practice wrapup stuff here. Fluff from the quarterbacks and a few tidbits from Groh.

And some good news on the basketball scheduling side of things. Next year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule is out, minus networks and start times. Not to worry though: we're kicking things off as that one-off game the night before the Challenge really starts, which is nice because that game is typically broadcast on ESPN2 and not at some silly start time like 9:30. Further, we draw Penn State - drawing anyone at all is nice in and of itself because I was really and truly worried we'd be the odd team out this year, what with two pretty lousy seasons in a row. Georgia Tech was worse last year though, and will watch from the sidelines. Penn State loses a couple top scorers, doesn't bring in anyone remarkable, and is basically the Miami of the Big Ten. Football school, occasionally has a dangerous basketball team, shows its face in the tournament once a decade or so. They do have the '09 NIT championship going for them, which is nice. Because we suck, we'll surely be the underdog in the game unless Penn State stumbles out to a terrible start, but the bottom line here is that Tony Bennett has an excellent opportunity to get a high-profile win that's easily spun into confidence-building material, with the very real chance that he won't actually have to beat a good team to do it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

spring wrapup

Spring practice is over, which means no football for you, young man, until August. Prior to the beginning of practice I offered up a look at what position battles and such that we might see; let's see what transpired between then and now to make me look foolish. Or if I'm lucky, prescient. Also, a stab at what the depth chart looks like heading into the summer.

Offensive line

Nothing's changed here. Hardly anything was ever even mentioned about the offensive line. This is fantastic. With so many returning starters, no news is the best news possible. The line appears set with a first unit of Barker, Cabbell, Shields, Pasztor, and Bradley, though I still think if Morgan Moses qualifies, he'll give Bradley some tough competition in fall camp.

Running back

We hardly have any of these left any more. Raynard Horne is now a wide receiver pretty much officially, which leaves only three non-fullback types on the roster. Rashawn Jackson still looks like the first-string fullback, by the way, but it remains to be seen just how much usage he'll get. Mikell Simpson is the tailback, and his skills are tailor-made for this offense, but if he falters, the coaches won't hesitate to find carries for Torrey Mack and Max Milien. Pencil in Simpson as the starter, but by no means the workhorse.

Wide receiver

This was very much an audition camp, and the ravest of rave reviews were for Javaris Brown and walk-on Matt Snyder. The addition of Horne from the RB corps and of Snyder as a legitimate option beefs up the depth chart somewhat. I'm still making no pretense at an attempt to predict what this'll look like in the fall.

Ah hell, screw it, I'm a blogger. I think the top four guys in the coaches' minds, in no particular order, are Brown, Snyder, Jared Green, and Kris Burd. There will be a ton of interchangeability here, though. Dontrelle Inman still has the most experience, and we're getting a huge influx of talent at this position in the fall, which is fortuitous. Tim Smith in particular will be a real threat to jump right onto the field as a true freshman. The really nice thing here is that wide receivers aren't like quarterbacks. You know, if you have two (or three, like we've got) you really don't have any. The picture might be really muddy right now, but there is a ton of talent in this bunch and the really interesting and exciting thing about it is that we don't really know exactly who's got the most of it. Finding out is going to be fun.

Tight end

Barely a peep here. I think Joe Torchia's playing time is going to depend on how much he can mimic a wide receiver.


If the William & Mary game were tomorrow I think the depth chart would look like this: 1, Jameel Sewell; 2, Vic Hall; and 3, Marc Verica. Groh's expressed minor annoyance at Verica's tendency to throw complete passes to the wrong color jersey; the fact that that tendency hasn't yet disappeared and that Sewell and Hall are clearly the more athletic players is going to work against Verica this season. Sewell may end up being "the quarterback" but there's no way he keeps Vic Hall off the field all season. Al Groh is a big Vic Hall fan; Hall will get his reps.

Riko Smalls is beginning to insert himself into the conversation but there's just too much going on in front of him right now. You probably won't hear much from Smalls this season and if you do, we're in trouble because injuries have apparently decimated the quarterbacks.

Defensive line

Still a little bit on the unsettled side. Actually it's probably less settled than it seemed going into camp. The coaches are still trying to find the best fit for J-K Dolce, and trying to find who the best ends are. About the only thing that's for sure is Matt Conrath is one DE starter, and Nick Jenkins is the nose tackle; the other end is not really in stone yet and neither are the backups. The door is cracked open for a freshman to come to fall camp and make some noise, and Will Hill has already started to do a little of that.


OK, so on the outside, it's Aaron Clark and Denzel Burrell. Except when it's a dime package, then it's Billy Schautz, about whom the coaches have said a lot of nice things about and about whom I said absolutely zero things in the pre-spring primer. Or except when a pass rusher is needed, then it's Cam Johnson, at least once he "learns to play the position." Got all that? Messed up in the head yet? Linebacker's another one of those spots like wide receiver where there's all kinds of openings and no shortage of players to fill them. Even more so than wide receiver, really. On the inside, I'm sticking with Darren Childs and Steve Greer. Getting Childs, Clark, and Burrell on the field as starters actually means that just like last year, there are three seniors. Except those guys last year were all like, ten-year starters, so they glommed up all the plays. There's more room this year in the different play packages, nickel and dime and pass-rush and all that, for other guys to play. In particular, I see Cam Johnson as an up-and-coming Darryl Blackstock, with pass-rushing as a specialty, while Clark gets the first- and second- down plays as the experienced run-stopper.


We're in great shape here. With the return of Chris Cook, there are three interchangeable cornerbacks that can be rotated in and out, or put out there all at once in a nickel package. Ras-I Dowling is still the best of the bunch, but there is no weak link.


Rodney McLeod got moved here early in the spring and proceeded to completely explode. Every time there was an update of some kind out of spring practice, invariably McLeod would be mentioned. Yesterday he blocked eight punts, today he intercepted twelve passes, tomorrow he will probably do both AND IT LOOKS LIKE HE SAVED A LITTLE PUPPY!!!!! Al Groh said great things about Rodney McLeod the way ESPN commentators say nice things about Tim Tebow, only without the creepy Jesus complex.

So basically the two starting positions are set between McLeod and Corey Mosley. That's kind of bad news for Ausar Walcott, because he's another the coaches have been talking up, and he's stuck behind two sophomores. He'll get on the field this year, though, again, in pass-coverage packages and whatnot.

Not to over-hype things, but there's little doubt in my mind that the defensive secondary is going to be easily the best unit on the team this year, and maybe the best secondary in the ACC. They're good.




Yannick Reyering's football career is over, so what used to be a three-way competition (four in the fall) is now a two-way competition (three in the fall.) Robert Randolph probably has the edge for placekicking, but Chris Hinkebein is still gonna be the kickoff guy. There's nothing stopping Drew Jarrett from stealing the job this fall, though.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the case for Eugene Monroe

So yeah - the NFL Draft. Here's the funny thing about this: I've been a Lions fan all my life, which means some pretty rotten seasons especially in the last decade. You'd think that at least once during all that time, the Lions would have been in line to pick atop the draft order given their stellar history. In fact you'd be wrong. I've always wondered what it would be like to follow the draft with the Lions at the top of it and at the same time never really wanted to find out.

Anyway, here we are, the party is less than a week away, and nobody really knows what the Lions will do. This is bad news for two reasons; one, there's no really dominant player that you'd be stupid not to take, and two, the Lions' needs are so many that there's no matching up a great player with glaring need. In fact there are only four positions of non-need on the Lions roster: receiver, running back, punter, and kicker. If there were a Chris Long or a Quentin Jammer this year, you can be they'd be in the conversation too, and the only thing keeping Michael Crabtree out is Calvin Johnson.

Anyway, pretty much all of the speculation centers on 5 players: QBs Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez, LB Aaron Curry, and OTs Jason Smith and, of course, Eugene Monroe. Alabama's Andre Smith was once in the conversation too, but he managed to take every play out of the Don't Draft Me playbook - agent trouble galore, crappy workouts, prima-donnatude at the combine - and execute them all to stunning perfection.

Now, of that list, Stafford seems the most likely, and also the most likely to piss me off. Monroe actually does not really appear to be much more than a fuzzy radar blip, which is really annoying because the Lions had a really good chance to draft another stud UVA lineman in Branden Albert and passed him up to trade down for a lesser player. You need a guard, the best one on the board falls in your lap....and you trade down for a worse guard. And you stupid bastards wonder why you went 0-16.

Anyway, I digress. The subject of Lions management tends to raise my hackles. Let's take a look at why all four of those not-Monroe players shouldn't be the pick:

Matt Stafford/Mark Sanchez: Forget Sanchez. His own friggin' coach thinks he shouldn't have left. Who would know him better? Not a good idea, end of story.

Now, here's what pisses me off about Mel Kiper, besides the fact that he's allowed to be wrong 100% of the time and never be held accountable for it. His assessment of the situation boils down to this: The Lions need a quarterback - Stafford has the best arm in the draft - Lions should take Stafford. Never mind how likely Stafford actually is to be a good quarterback - he's the best there, the Lions need one, take him. Stafford's best asset is supposedly his arm strength, which was also considered to be the really great thing about Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, and Kyle Boller. Unfortunately, Stafford's accuracy sucks and that puts him in really sucky company.

Kiper's misguided attempt at logic can be used against him. If the Lions don't take Stafford, they will continue to suck, it can be inferred from that line of thinking. So they will get a high pick in next year's draft, at which point they'll be able to choose from a group that's much, much better than the sorry-ass collection of misfit toys in this draft. There will be, at a minimum, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, and probably Sam Bradford, at least one of whom would almost certainly be available in the top-five slot the Lions will likely earn next year, and all of whom would be preferable to Stafford, a workout star and big-game choker. When you desperately need an upgrade at 20 of 22 starting positions, you don't take the one with the most development needed and biggest risk involved.

I haven't even gotten to the biggest thing yet. See, when you take a quarterback, you're not only trying to run the offense, you're trying to sell jerseys. You're trying to get someone the fans will rally behind and buy tickets to see. Ordinarily, any ol' #1 overall quarterback would do the trick. But we Lions fans have seen this movie already, and we're afraid it's going to be a trilogy. Volume 1 was Andre Ware; Volume 2, Joey Harrington. Lions fans are so anti-Stafford that they actually chanted Don't Draft Stafford at today's logo unveiling. The last thing this organization needs, besides another 16-loss season, is for their first #1 overall pick since 1980 to get booed as he smiles awkwardly and holds up his #1 jersey on stage, and again when he takes the field before he's even thrown a pass. This whole affair has bust written all over it.

Aaron Curry: This is a harder case to make, because the Lions literally have no middle linebacker. The need here is even greater than at quarterback. Guess what though: Curry isn't a middle linebacker. Theoretically, he could make the switch. Theoretically. The thing about this draft though is that it's deep enough at linebacker that the Lions could pass on Curry and still get one with the 20th overall pick. In fact many mock drafts have them taking Rey Maualuga or James Laurinitis with that pick. This is a much shorter section because picking Curry would actually curry (HA HA HA) my favor and not piss me right off like picking Stafford would.

So, we've established that the Lions should pass on the quarterback and the linebacker. That leaves offensive tackle and a battle between Monroe and Jason Smith. Why Monroe?

- Multiple sources think Monroe is the better pass blocker. Smith is stronger and may be a better run blocker, but good run blocking starts in the middle. Good pass blocking starts at the edges. It's why you hear about pass-rushing DE's and run-stuffing DT's. You can get away with a little bit less of a run-blocker at tackle, but that left tackle damn well better protect the passer. There were none better at protecting the passer the last two years in college football than Eugene Monroe, and zero sacks given up in 2007 prove it.

- Is that a two-point stance? Yes, yes it is. Smith operated out of a spread offense at Baylor and very often started plays in a two-point, not three-point stance. Monroe has been in a more-or-less pro-style offense all this time. Slight preparation edge to Monroe for fewer transition pains (an edge we're admittedly giving up this season.) Slight, but at the #1 pick, an edge is an edge.

- UVA has an undeniable recent history of producing NFL-ready linemen. Albert. D'Brick. Big E. Even our "lesser" prospects at least get an NFL shot: Brad Butler. Brian Barthelmes. You get a UVA lineman, you know you're getting someone who's got all the right coaching.

- The last and only time the Lions took a Wahoo in the first round, they ended up with the greatest wide receiver in Lions history. It's been over 10 years since the Lions last drafted a UVA football player - it's time, dammit.

I don't actually think the Lions will take Monroe. I'm bracing myself for Matt "The Bust" Stafford. If not Stafford, the Lions have shown more overtures to Curry and Smith than to Monroe and it'd probably be one of those two. And honestly, the Lions fan in me is happy as long as we don't get a quarterback. But I think you know what the UVA fan wants.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

video page updated

So I'd really been hoping I could branch out of football videos a little sooner than this, but only about six or seven basketball games were on TV up here and exactly zero of them were UVA wins. So, we wait til the spring to get a video up. But the video page (link on the right) is finally updated with the UVA/JHU lacrosse game. You know, like I'd been planning to do and promising to do for three weeks and never got around to? Well, there you have it - you can go relive that particular slice of Virginia lore any time you want. Look for the Maryland game too, eventually.

As a side note, because there's really no other place this'd be appropriate, if I'd known I could drive a lot of traffic somewhere just by calling Greivis Vasquez a giant douchenozzle, I'd have just filled out my blogroll with links labeled "Greivis Vasquez is a giant douchenozzle." Other than coaching search-related clicky-clicks, I'm pretty sure "Greivis Vasquez is a giant douchenozzle" from Friday's post is the most popular link I've ever put up. Just thought you might want to know this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

cuuurrrrryyyy. cuuurrrrryyyy.

Being a sports fan is weird. It's like this, see. As you can see from the sidebar, I'm a Hoo by choice, not by birth. The main thing this means, besides having a diploma, is that a lot of UVA history is sort of alien to me. Take Jason Williford - it's very exciting for those who were fans back in the early '90s that he's once again with the program. I myself had only a vague memory of having heard his name a couple times over the past nine years or so. My mechanism for whenever this sort of thing happens is to translate it over to my Michigan fandom - in this case, to imagine what it would be like as a Michigan fan if, say, Jimmy King came back as an assistant coach. (Which he's not allowed to do because of Fab Five sanctions, but bear with me.) It's not the same, but it's close. That way I can write about it and give a story like that the treatment it deserves instead of "some guy just got hired."

I'm a quick study, though. In 1999 I took notice of UVA's crushing at the hands of Illinois in the bowl game, but didn't allow myself to get too disappointed because, well, what if I didn't get accepted? The letter was still three months away. The next football game Virginia played was a devastating overtime loss to BYU in the sparkling, newly-renovated stadium. I say "devastating" because I was there, in attendance, a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed first-year and newly minted Cavalier fan, helping set a then-record for largest crowd ever at a sporting event within the Virginia borders. And it sucked walking out of there because we had that game won, man. I was genuinely upset about this. A new fanatic was born.

I had a lot to learn, though. A couple months later, North Carolina came to town. I knew a few things about them. I knew who their quarterback was, for example - a junior named Ronald Curry. But it was blindingly obvious there was more than just the usual level of scorn for that particular opponent. "Seething hatred" would be apt. Burning, spleenful rancor. You and a thesaurus could spend all day coming up with great literature-y ways to describe it, but there was clearly a greater-than-normal interest in the crowd in seeing this guy fail. A patient upperclassman next to me in the stands answered my inquiries with the story of Curry's recruitment and why exactly his first name was Benedict as far as anyone on Charlottesville was concerned. "Oh," I said. "Fuck that guy." "Exactly," was the reply. And when the game started I took just as much delicious schadenfreudey delight as anyone else at each and every one of Curry's mistakes. Every time he fumbled, every incomplete pass, every sack, were better than when they happened to some other schmo in the wrong colors. The game went down as just one in a long string of Curry's, and Carolina's, futility in Charlottesville, and a new fanatic grew into his fanaticism just a little more.

Why do I tell you all this? This footnote in the Detroit papers is why - inconsequential to most, to me, a story:

Lions sign WR Ronald Curry, FB Terrelle Smith

Most Lions fans see the team going about its offseason business as usual. I see something different, obviously. In ten years, Ronald Curry has gone from the quarterback of a random ACC team 800 miles away, to a guy wearing the colors of my NFL team. Stops in between include "despised filthy traitor" and "a big reason I actually had a decent fantasy team a couple years ago for once." This is why sports fanhood is so much fun.

This should provide another quality round of schadenfreude for UVA fans that remember the whole debacle, by the way. I'm a Lions fan, but they are officially the worst team ever to disgrace an NFL field, and in order to sign with them you have to either be not good enough to play for 31 other teams, or an unabashed mercenary. At this stage in his career, Curry is probably both.

Ohbytheway. Speaking of the Lions, here the case is made as to why they should make Eugene Monroe the first pick in the draft. Mike Mayock beat me to the punch - I had that post all planned for next week. Tough - I'm gonna write it anyway. Probably on Tuesday.

And now, speaking of guys we hate, we're not the only ones in this case. NBA scouts gave their opinions on various early enrollees for the draft, including everyone's favorite Twerp, Greivis Vasquez. The verdict: He's a gigantic douchenozzle of such douchey proportions that I'd actually draft a worse player on my team just so I don't have to put up with his douchey shit. Gee, I wonder what attracted him to Maryland.

This weekend is the spring game. Next week sometime I'll make some attempt at a spring wrap-up - not because I'm actually going to get to see the spring "game" (glorified scrimmage) but because it just sort of seems silly to do it beforehand. Actually the main thing to get excited about is that it's one of the bigger recruiting weekends of the early recruiting season. There won't be this many prospects on Grounds until camp time in June. There's always the hope for a commitment or two, and my best guess is if we get any, they'll be from Conner Davis and/or E.J. Scott.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

well that was fast

A recruitment most of us expected to last a long time wrapped up fast: Philip Sims verbaled up to Alabama. Rats.

If you're one of those guys* who takes everything out of the semi-shady world of recruiting at face value, then it's basically like this: Sims has always been sort of enamored with Alabama, his recent trip down there confirmed his feelings about the place, and he decided that he liked the place enough that there was no sense in waiting. On the other hand, if you're the type that thinks the Illuminati killed Jesus and JFK, Saban has always been a skeezy sort of recruiter now working at a place historically known for recruiting shenanigans, not to mention the type that oversigns classes like crazy. So for a guy to suddenly up and commit when he's been talking all this time about taking a very long time to make his decision and just two days ago was saying he "couldn't be more wide open than he is now" is fishy. Snake oil and suspicions abound. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between, and I leave it to you to opine for yourself how close to which side it is. The only decision for me is whether to remove him from the recruiting board entirely or just bump him to red. I figure if he decommits it's not like I'm going to miss out on that news, so off he goes on the next update.

The other piece of news is that Yannick Reyering's football experiment is over with (you know you're getting this quote straight from Al Groh) "knee circumstances." I have basically no reaction to this. With or without Reyering, we're still looking at a season in which field goal range is considerably shrunken from the Chris Gould/Connor Hughes days. Reyering was not on scholarship, so his loss doesn't help that situation either.

Shorter post today because it's time to take a breather from all the bilateral flapping of arms over the basketball team. And because I'm finally getting around to doing something about getting the lacrosse recordings up on YouTube.

*Women know better than to obsess over football recruiting, so I have no qualms about using gender-discriminatory pronouns in this sense.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the drama is dead; long live the drama

With Tristan Spurlock and Jontel Evans back in the fold pretty much officially, the last shred of drama from the '08-'09 season is finally at a close. That's now officially last season, and the lack of a schedule does not deter me from calling the '09-'10 campaign "this season."

Or is it the end? DeShawn Painter, as you might have read, is no longer bound to Florida and is looking elsewhere. According to ESPN, we're the front-runner for his services. Yay? I dunno. First off where does that even come from? I really don't think that's based on any, like, actual insider knowledge. I think that's just a guy having to fill in the blanks in an editor-directed article and figuring one school's as good as any other. That's #1. #2, where does the scholarship come from? There were 14 players on the roster last year, and only one was paying his own way. The scholarship limit is, of course, 13 - Diane and Soroye depart, replaced by Spurlock and Evans, and there you are at 13 again. Where the scholarship for Painter would come from, I have no idea. So I think it's safe to say, Painter isn't going to be an option, and any future drama is '09-'10 drama, not '08-'09 drama.

OK, what else on this very, very offseasonish Wednesday? The Tewaaraton Trophy nominations are out - 21 in all, four of which are 'Hoos. The obvious two are Danny Glading and Garrett Billings; Shamel Bratton also picks up a nomination, and the fourth is for Mike Timms. When the five finalists are selected, Bratton and Timms are very unlikely to be on the list is my guess. Bratton because there's no way he beats out Glading and Billings, and Timms because long-stick guys don't win the Tewaaraton same way defensive players don't win the Heisman. Not to disparage what Timms has done, though, which is basically to make a mess of opposing offenses.

Also, the local newspapers tag-team on some QB fluff. Jeff White brings you Vic Hall and Jay Jenkins has Jameel Sewell. Both are pretty similar themes of "likable guy finally getting a shot at running the show." Much of the quarterback publicity coming out of spring camp has focused on these two gentlemen, and it really would seem that Marc Verica is the odd man out for now.

Finally, the official website has been doing some running Q&A's with various players - today, Nate Collins is on the hook. Most of it's the usual fluff, but Collins gives some pretty strong hints at what the linebacker depth chart looks like. Based on that, plus yesterday's with Denzel Burrell as well as the rest of the precious rare morsels of info that sneak out of camp, here's a guess at the way that's shaping up: Outside, the first-teamers are Cam Johnson and Burrell, with Billy Schautz and Aaron Clark backing up. Schautz has been getting good reviews out of practice, but outside is where all the established players with experience are. Inside, Darren Childs and Steve Greer are the ones with the first group according to Collins, and Aaron Taliaferro and Darnell Carter are with the second team.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

assistant coaches

Hopefully this is the coaching search wrap-up and in the future I can talk about Tony Bennett exclusively as the head coach actual and not as some guy we just hired who's going to be the head coach.

First, check out the coaching search cliff notes at the ACC Sports Journal, where they give you the rundown of about four weeks' worth of insanity in one easy page.

Next, have a look at the apparent list of assistant coaches. "Apparent" because Ritchie McKay is the only one named officially by the University, but there's no reason not to believe Jeff White here.

There are three names to take a look at. I'm not going to worry about Brad Soucie here because as director of basketball operations, he's really more of a Man Friday to Coach Bennett and literally not allowed to get involved with actual coaching. Besides Bennett, the three guys that will be doing the coaching and recruiting and all that are Ritchie McKay, Ron Sanchez, and Jason Williford. One by one, here's what I think:

Ritchie McKay

McKay hasn't been an assistant coach since 1995 - his extensive head coaching experience is the main asset he brings to this job. Also anyone who can recruit a talent like Seth Curry to come to a school where there's a curfew and a ban on R-rated movies is a plus recruiter in my book. Also he's probably one of the top five reasons Dave Leitao was fired, since at UVA you're not supposed to lose to Liberty. The least he could do to make up for that blemish on our record was to come here to coach, right? Anyway, aside from that, McKay's coaching career is a depressing pyramid of undistinguished tenures at lousy programs. There's a certain symmetry to it, actually, if you look. And none of it's even remotely impressive, to be honest. The one season he had any real success at all - his New Mexico team earning a 12 seed to the tournament - he had Danny Granger, a future first-round pick of the Indiana Pacers, leading the way. Still, McKay's not the head coach. He's the associate head coach. And I figure the man knows a little something about recruiting if he can bring Seth Curry onboard, and the experience of having been a head coach will be a big plus for Bennett.

Ron Sanchez

Sanchez comes to Charlottesville as a package deal with Bennett. His WSU bio is here, for however long it manages to stay before it's taken down, and no, I'm not getting excited over his ties to New York, going to school there and coaching D-III ball doesn't qualify. Eight years ago, Sanchez was an associate head coach at a JUCO; he is now a highly paid ACC assistant. That qualifies as a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks, and that suggests either a highly motivated, Type-A go-getter or a shameless self-promoter, depending on whether or not you were the guy he stepped on to get what he wants. Either way, Bennett has been leaning on Sanchez for some time now in the recruiting domain, and it's going to be that way here too, and that kind of personality is a plus - almost a requirement - in the world of basketball recruiting. Also, according to his bio, he is a killer scheduler of schedules. For what that's worth.

Jason Williford

Did you know Williford played for Jeff Jones at UVA? OK, you probably did. Did you know he played professional ball too? Yup. Not being quite the caliber player the NBA is looking for, Williford headed overseas and played professionally in Iceland(!!) and Korea. Now, let's be honest: Williford's US coaching career, aside from volunteer work and high school, is five years at Boston U. and four at American. Williford was able to use his UVA connections first to land the American job (it being under the coach he played for here) and then to land this one. And that's not a bad thing. First off it's nice to have someone who's got recent connections in a place where UVA absolutely must recruit in order to be viable: the DC area. Second, we finally have someone involved with the program who knows what the program was like when it produced Sweet Sixteen-caliber teams. And third, speaking of the NCAA tournament, Williford has more tournament experience than the whole rest of the staff combined. His three appearances as a player and three appearances as an assistant coach, including a total of 12 games, have got everyone else beat, including Bennett. You can't beat tournament experience.

Lastly, a little bit of a late Easter egg for you. It's not the big big news we've been waiting for but it's close. You won't be able to read this if you're not a Rivals subscriber, but the news will be out sooner rather than later anyway so I don't feel bad about posting it: Jontel Evans reaffirmed his commitment tonight. Evans' reputation as a tough, tough defender makes him something of a more talented version of the players Bennett liked to work with at WSU, so that combined with the fact that he'll be one of only two true PGs on the roster make him a big keep and likely to see time off the bench right away next year. One down, one to go.

EDIT of a happy nature: Easter egg, part two - if you believe Facebook statuses, Spurlock is also staying put, and the '09 class remains intact. Hopefully there'll be confirmation of a more official nature tomorrow, but Spurlock's Facebook postings have actually been reasonably reliable, and he has never come across as the type to mess with people on a mass scale. So: YAY! Tony Bennett has now achieved pretty much everything UVA fans could reasonably demand from him. He's put all the checks in all the right boxes, and no, he can't go back in time and also give himself a national title at Kentucky, so stop it. Focus can now turn 100% to the '09-'10 season and all it entails.

Monday, April 13, 2009

that is not how those games are supposed to end

OK let's just get it out of the way right now: No, Tristan Spurlock hasn't made up his mind yet, or at least he hasn't told anyone, as of 5:50 PM EDT.

So, the baseball team did something baseball teams aren't supposed to ever do: tie. Which is stupid. ACC travel policy, you see, mandates that you can't start an inning on Sunday after a certain time because the visiting team has to travel its happy self back to school. This seems hypocritical for a league which is happy to hold weeknight basketball games that don't end until midnight in order to placate the TV folks. So if it's tied, eh bien, game over. Hell, even hockey got rid of ties, and this is a sport where 10 or 15 of those in a season was par for the course.

The result is a split of the series with Georgia Tech, which if you predicted that, you're probably the sort of numbnuts that calls "edge" when flipping a coin. Other than "ACC policy is dumb", I think we can take away two lessons from the series: one, that our bullpen is still stinky and that Matt Packer is really starting to worry me; and two, we can hang with teams considered better than us (and therefore have every bit as good a chance at winning the ACC as anyone else) because our bats have the ability to make other bullpens look as bad as ours.

But you really have to wonder about Packer. Like, seriously, if he's hurt or something. Because he's nothing at all like the pitcher he was. If he were in last year's form we'd probably be leading the league. If he can find a way to morph back into the pitcher he was last year we might well be favorites for the ACC title, because our schedule is pretty favorable the rest of the way. His stats in ACC games this year: WHIP - 1.69 (crummy) and ERA - 9.69 (ungodly). Makes you wonder if there's something about his arm he's not telling anyone.

The lacrosse team played this weekend too, unfortunately, and had big trouble remembering how many Duke players are supposed to be on the field at any given time. Dom Starsia's boys tried a new defensive tactic on Saturday which involved allowing a random Dookie to roam freely within three stick lengths of our goalie and challenging Ghitelman to come up with a stop. This is not known to be a successful ploy.

So, my fears of a three-way tie have come to pass, and our reward for our defensive ineptitude against Duke is another game against Duke. The only thing determined by the pathetic excuse for an ACC regular season is that UNC is everyone's bitch, and not that there's anything different between second and third seed except the color of jersey you wear, but we're third seed. Starsia now has two weeks to square away the defense and a game against Ivy League doormat Dartmouth to practice it. And I renew my plea to the ACC to either encourage a few of its teams to add lacrosse, or expand the lacrosse portion of the league.

As promised before the weekend, an update to the recruiting board:

- Added the following offered players: C Russell Bodine, DE Kareem Martin, LB Ryan Cobb (all to yellow), LB Ken Wilkins (to red.)

- Removed the following players LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (recommitted to BC), LB Nick Forbes (seems to be in the same category as Aramide Olaniyan where the coaches can't see the fit in the 3-4), and LB Justin Maclin (out of our league.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

EasSpur weekend

Recruiting post. Minimal editorial today, because it's my birthday tomorrow and I can't say for sure how much of this weekend will be spent sober. Send me expensive presents.

A quick non-recruiting bit from Gottschalk: Andrew Devlin's spring is over with a knee something-or-other. Impact should be minimal, at least to the team, if he's OK for the fall, as there's only a week of practice left. It'll make summer conditioning tough though and make it that much harder for Devlin to see the two-deep. Competition in the fall will be heavy.

Now. The basketball, then. As I've mentioned, Tristan Spurlock is coming down for his visit. Two pieces of quality journalizing along those lines; first, from Jeff White, and second, video from NBC 29. Earlier Spurlock said he was 50/50, now he tells NBC he's 60/40 about staying.....that sounds like a guy whose mind is moving in the right direction.

Some folks have said this shouldn't be seen as a test for Bennett. Some folks are wrong. This is a huge test for Bennett, and I do expect he'll pass. Listen, you watch that Spurlock video, you hear him say this: he knows (and must like, or he wouldn't have chosen us) the players, the facilities, the Grounds, the whole deal. That's all in our favor. It's the coaches and their system he wants to know about. Here's a guy who already likes nearly everything about UVA. He's signed on the dotted line, so other coaches can't touch him. They can't be calling him up and badmouthing Bennett's system. It's just Bennett and Spurlock. If Bennett can't close the deal, how's he going to close the deal with someone who doesn't already know and like the school and can be the target of negative recruiting?

Recruiting board is updated, but only on my computer. Sometime later on I'll post. Company's coming and the drinking is going to start shortly. Happy Easter! May the Easter Bunny bring you a regular season lacrosse title and a basketball recruit.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


There's only so much to ramble on about in the offseasons, so I'm going to turn it over to The InterWebs today:

First, some CDP fluff about the lacrosse-playin' Gill family: eldest Conor, the spectacularly-named Brendan, and current senior Gavin. Walk into a fourth-grade classroom. Try to do it without being a creepy stalker who hangs around elementary schools. Those li'l monsters have not even been alive at any point in time in which a Gill was not playing lacrosse at Virginia. End of an era, my friends.

Don't be fooled by Groh's attempts at watering down the praise he hands out to Rodney McLeod for his play this spring at safety. Scarcely a report comes out of spring practice that doesn't include Groh raving about McLeod's play out there. The secondary will be the deepest part of the team this year, likely with three players at both safety and corner with the ability to roll in and out of the lineup. Four at corner, depending on how much defense Vic Hall plays.

Those hoping for a UVA alum with Virginia connections to be hired as an assistant to Tony Bennett should be guardedly optimistic about this Jason Williford blurb.

The ACC Sports Journal sat down with Taylor Rochestie for an interview. The subject? Rochestie is the departing senior point guard at Washington State, so, not cheeseburgers.

Also from the ACCSJ is a pre-pre-preseason (their word) and probably premature (my words) ACC basketball power rankings. We are - how shall I put a positive spin on this - behind only 11 teams! The rationale:

"Bennett has inherited a genuine rebuilding project and unlike Washington State, where he was a previous assistant, the players will need some time to buy into his defensive-minded style."

Fair point from the above: At Wazzu, the instant turnaround was partially possible because Bennett had already been an assistant there for three years, so anyone not brand-new to the program anyway had already gotten used to Bennett's style. Counterpoint: It's not like "defensive-minded" wasn't a hallmark of Leitao's style. We're not making any sudden philosophical changes around here. Really, it's Bennett's offense that the players will have to get used to. One criticism leveled at Leitao was the perception of a do-it-yourself offense - John Brandenburg's words, not mine. So in a perverse way maybe that'll only help. Maybe when the players find themselves having a tough time with the Bennett offense, which actually has a system to it, they can just revert to what they know - do-it-yourself. No, that's probably just me bullshitting you.

But, I take issue with the 12th place ranking regardless. 10 ACC players averaged more points than Sylven Landesberg this year. Five are seniors, two have declared for the draft (sans agent though) and one more probably will. That leaves two. Maybe as many as five, though I think Gerald Henderson is probably going to leave, Jeff Teague is 50/50, and Greivis Vazquez will probably return and be a stone-cold lock to lead the league in cocky douchebaggery.

Point is, there are six teams losing their leading scorer to expired eligibility and three more whose might also leave. And we're the ones with a rebuilding project?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

best and worst case scenarios

So naturally, everyone wants to know what sort of results we're going to get from our basketball team now that we've had our requisite dose of drama, wailing and gnashing of teeth, black helicopters, and plagues of locusts that generally accompany a coaching search. Tony Bennett's Job 1 is to keep the signed recruits signed, and unfortunately the timing is lousy because just as an entire fanbase was all set to hold their collective breath once again over this, we hit a recruiting dead period. This started about two hours after Bennett's home visit with Tristan Spurlock and lasts until Friday. Pfeh. We want news dammit.

Well, here's some about both Evans and Spurlock. Evans sounds solid. Really. He wants a meeting with Coach Bennett - which he'll no doubt get very soon - and unless Bennett walks into the house and wipes his muddy feet on the dog or something, Evans will report his satisfaction with the meeting and all will be well.

The news is actually also pretty positive on the Spurlock front. This very weekend, Spurlock will be in Charlottesville. (Sabre $) He's never taken his official visit, see, and this is great stuff because the wining and dining you're allowed to do on an official visit is really tremendous. Spurlock is talking a lot of the talk you'd expect - 50/50, wants to spend more time with the players, meet the new assistant coaches, etc. etc., but I get the impression Landesberg and Zeglinski will hogtie him to a locker and leave him there til practice starts if that's what it takes to make sure he stays a Cavalier. The players will put on the hard sell and Spurlock will find it hard to say no. Not to say he for surely sure won't back out in the end, but official visits have a way of impressing people.

Until then, though, we're in pure wait mode, interrupted only by yet another heart attack of a lacrosse game and some baseball. So I thought I'd try and paint a picture of what to maybe expect both this year and beyond. Reasonable assumptions are made. First, the worst-case scenario that I could realistically see happening:

- Bennett is able to convince Evans, but not Spurlock, to come to UVA next year. Worse, a player or two expected to be a significant contributor next year - maybe it's top defender Assane Sene, maybe it's a presumed scoring option like Jeff Jones or Jamil Tucker - decides to transfer. Because of this, the team's depth is totally shot, a JUCO or two is brought in, and Bennett is forced to play a grind-it-out style similar to his Washington State teams. The team's record improves, but only by one or two games. Sylven Landesberg is once again the only truly dependable scorer on the team, and with that likely to be the case in '10-'11 as well, he decides he's done all he can at UVA and departs for the NBA draft. Highly-rated recruits that Bennett tries to land are repeatedly reminded by opposing coaches that Bennett hasn't changed his stripes at all from his WSU days, and that his teams are doomed to score in the 50's and 60's every game. The proof is in the '09-'10 pudding. Bennett can't overcome the negative recruiting or his lack of ties in the mid-Atlantic and gives up on the blue chips for the most part. He focuses on recruiting the overlooked "system" players, with the occasional Klay Thompson type coming aboard. With two or three years of the system in place, Bennett's X's and O's are good enough to scrape enough ACC wins to make us a fairly regularly NIT participant, but we never go the NCAAs.

Yikes. That was depressing, and the worst part is I started to really believe it as I typed. You can really see that coming to fruition. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. There is an alternate future:

- Spurlock is thrilled by his official visit and stays on board. Recruiting for 2010 continues to remain up in the air, but a blistering start to the 2009-'10 season begins to convince some of the recruits UVA already has ties with that Bennett knows how to unleash a star player on unsuspecting opponents. We enter the ACC season unranked but with a good record that sports no losses to teams that shouldn't beat us. Landesberg leads the charge and gets the support he never could get in '08-'09 from his teammates on the offensive end. A decent, approximately .500 showing in the ACC coupled with a win or two in the conference tournament keeps us on the bubble all year. Selection Sunday for once is interesting and we're rewarded for our patience with a double-digit 10 or 11 seed against an upsettable opponent in the NCAAs. Bennett proves not only able to use the team's success as an effective recruiting tool for high-schoolers, but for his own team as well, as Sylven Landesberg hearkens back to the memorable night when Sean Singletary's number was retired and resists the call of the NBA to become a four-year starter. Within two or three years of Bennett's hiring, Virginia is a regular in top-25 rankings, and shows up in bracketology circles as a 3-to-5 seed with legitimate Sweet Sixteen expectations.

Much better, isn't it? And again, the best part is that I actually started to believe that, too. Either way is possible; in fact, either way seems likely. Somewhere in the middle ground is our fate, but I really think these are plausible enough that you don't have to assume the truth will be some kind of compromise between them. Anything on the outside of these paths, consider either a miracle or really rotten luck. I tried to think of some literary reference to illustrate the crossroads we're at here, but I blanked, so no clever metaphor for you - we'll just have to wait. The first real step on the journey comes when we find out what Tristan Spurlock wants to do. I hate to sound like the whims and decisions of just one 18-year-old kid are going to set in motion the wheels that take us either across the Styx or to Valhalla, but honestly, without overblowing the importance of it, it's important. Very. Spurlock's decision will have a real, actual effect on the quality of our season next year. The quality of our season next year will have a real, actual effect on the kind of player we can recruit in the future. And so on. This is barring any freak unfortunate crap like someone blowing out a knee in a pickup game over the summer. If the basketball program is going to get better, though, it starts this very weekend.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

in which life imitates art, if this blog post is art

Our struggles in baseball this year - if you can call them struggles since we're 26-5 - can be chalked up to one word: BULLPEN. This is the bane of every baseball fan: to watch a great game being played with your team up late, and then the lead disappears with virtually no chance of recovery because the guy on the mound can't get three simple outs.

The verdict in the season thus far: not great. We had one player on the whole team that was on any kind of preseason watch list for whatever list of awards are given out at the end of the year, and he's not going to win that award, and yes, that award happened to be Stopper of the Year, and the nominee was Matt Packer. Packer is currently running a 3.38 ERA which is, y'know, solid, but not Stopper of the Year stuff. Packer has also been charged with two of our five losses.

Packer's not the only culprit. Those five losses - none of them have been charged to starting pitchers. Relievers aren't like starters. They can't get charged with losses that aren't their fault. If they get a loss it's not because they didn't get any run support. It's because they do really annoying things like give up eighth-inning grand slams to the worst team in the ACC. Or waste a great seventh-inning rally by giving up an eighth-inning rally. Every one of our losses has come in the eighth or ninth inning, except for one which came in the seventh.

So this team can go as far as the bullpen takes them. That much is clear. The hitting is still fearsome, even if the numbers don't look as gaudy since we started playing actual competition and not just Bucknell. We have two ace-quality starting pitchers. So how far can the bullpen take us? Well, pretty far, actually. Packer's had a rough couple of games, but his batting average-against is almost exactly the same as last year when his ERA was more than two runs smaller. (The caveat, as with all the statistical analysis you'll ever do about college baseball, is that the sample sizes are itty-bitty.) Still, Packer didn't for nothing lead the nation in ERA last year. Whenever we're in a tight spot he's still the Ghostbuster we're gonna call. And y'know, I'm OK with that. Much of the rest of the 'pen is actually improved from last year, and last year was pretty decent if you recall. The one other guy who really isn't, Neal Davis, is holding batters to .218 - again, I can live with this.

And the schedule from here on out is favorable. Outside of Georgia Tech, there's nobody left that we shouldn't expect to take two of three from at a minimum - and it's not like we can't win that series either. Certainly, we'll improve on our sixth seed in last year's ACC tournament, and what about hosting a regional? Yes, I do think we should expect that too.

I do apologize for the lateness of today's post, and yesterday's, and frankly probably the rest of the week. I've been deprived of my Tigers baseball all winter and I've been posting these from my laptop and the comfort of my recliner in front of the TV, watching my beloved old English D do their thing. This would be great fun, except, who do you suppose just gave up a three-run, eighth-inning home run to stake the Jays to a lead they haven't had all game? That's right, THE STINKING BULLPEN. So you see.

Monday, April 6, 2009

j'accuse? non. je fais seulement un conjecture

'Cause I got another post left about it. Yes, I'm talking about basketball coaches; no, I'm not talking about the assistant coach speculation. I honestly can't bring myself to care very much. Would it be nice if a UVA alum was hired? Sure, that'd be cool. I trust Bennett to know what he wants in an assistant coach though and I'm not interested in bringing the hammer of criticism that he "doesn't get" UVA, Virginia, and/or the mid-Atlantic if his last hire or two aren't regional enough. And I certainly don't care whether he's in Detroit, Pullman, Charlottesville, or Sri Lanka on any given day. Somehow I can muster up the patience to wait for a third assistant coach to be hired. And given the fact that 100% of people following UVA basketball failed to accurately predict the head coach, I'm not going to get sucked into the speculation business this time around. If you can't get enough of the guessing game, have a gander at Jeff White who's better at turning up the nuggets of sweet sweet rumoronium than I am.

Now, this isn't the first time that directly contradictory information has come out about this whole search (remember the spooky midnight tour?) and it won't be the last time directly contradictory information comes out about any coaching search. On the one hand you have the party line from the executive associate athletic director: "There were no other offers on the table. Ever." On the other, you have Adam Gottschalk. There was an offer, Gottschalk says, and he's backed up by the St. Paul Pioneer Press which says Tubby "could have had" the job.

The sum and gist of Gottschalk's story is that Tubby was basically one step from coming on down until the offer was torpedoed by President Casteen. Naturally, he and Oliver can't both be telling the truth. Even if you read "offer" to mean as official and legal as possible, in writing and in triplicate and all that, Oliver very clearly says "This (meaning Bennett) was the first choice." He even acknowledged the Tubby rumors and dismissed them out of hand. It's as unequivocal a statement as you can get.

It's tempting to believe Gottschalk, because Casteen has been the target of fans' ire before. And what you read in the newspaper is never ever ever ever ever the whole story, ever. The problem with Gottschalk's argument, though, is the way he frames it: "Still, it’s just a strong rumor, based on fact, mixed with conjecture, so take it for what it’s worth."

Then he proceeds to tell the story, without bothering to tell us what's fact and what's conjecture. Which is annoying. How seriously am I supposed to take this? Should I read it and get all lathered up and fire off invectives at Casteen? How seriously does Gottschalk believe it? I think he probably believes it pretty strongly, which is about as strong a statement I can say about it because in giving himself an out (in order to keep the University from drying up his sources) he waters down his message. And in the end I can't take it seriously. There's a reason Émile Zola wrote "J'accuse" (I accuse) and not "Je devine" (I guess). If Gottschalk has an accusation, he needs to make the accusation, stick by it, and not mix his fact with his conjecture so that nobody can tell the difference and so he can weasel out of it if taken to task. Accuse or don't. If he's afraid of losing his job or his "ins" at the University, he should shut up and stop aiming spitballs at the institution. Because it's not fair to Casteen, even if he did sink a Tubby offer, to have people who read Gottschalk's blog coming up with their own ideas of what happened because Gottschalk doesn't have the cojones to stick by a story or the good common sense to keep his mouth shut when there isn't one. Sometimes good journalism isn't about what you print, it's what you don't.

As for me, I can only wonder why Casteen would agree to build a gleaming, nine-figure, professional-quality arena in a very prominent place on Grounds and then cheap out on a coach costing 2.4% of that. If Casteen and the academic eggheads "were not comfortable with UVa (a school that fashions itself after the Ivy leagues) being a school that would pay any coach 3.2 million dollars per season" why would they be comfortable building a huge new arena with a big videoboard and ohbytheway speaking of videoboards, adding a new one to the football stadium? It doesn't make sense and for that reason (as well as those reasons already stated), I take Gottschalk's story with a grain of salt. A really huge, extra-salty grain of salt.

Edit: hey, a little something footbally, too. This was actually dug up by ESPN's Heather, and should in the slightest be taken as schadenfreude. Seriously. But it seems Peter Lalich is not having such a good spring over in Corvallis.

Friday, April 3, 2009

they need to fix this lacrosse mess

Problem: ACC lacrosse is silly.

Solution: Complain about it for the next several paragraphs.

Here's the deal. As you know, only one-third of the ACC competes in men's lacrosse, which makes for a four-team league. The absurdity of this was highlighted to me as I watched the part of the Maryland game last Saturday that I actually remembered to see live. The announcers pointed out in the span of a few short minutes that, 1) Maryland could clinch the regular season title with a win, 2) UVA was playing its first conference game, and 3) UVA was playing its only conference home game. This was on ESPN2, one of the very few regular season games all year to be broadcast to a national audience, so ESPN was peppering in Lacrosse 101 for those new to the game and its rules. Rules, hell. Folks are accustomed to a football world where teams are more or less neatly divided up into conferences of fairly even numbers and schedules are set fairly rigidly. They'll be just as confused by the concept of a game where one team is playing its conference opener and another is playing for the championship as they are by the idea that you can send the ball out of bounds and still retain possession.

"Regular season title" takes on even less meaning when it's distinctly possible that three out of four teams could all go 2-1 and share the title, which is exactly what will happen if we beat UNC and lose to Duke. To top it all off, the ACC has no autobid to the tournament because you need six teams for that. Not that it matters; we all go anyway, but still.

Around the country, the landscape is confusing. There are eight conferences. Six of them are basically the same as their counterpart basketball conferences minus those teams that don't sponsor lacrosse. The other two are glommed together from the misfits - there's something called the Great Western Lacrosse League, the concept of which is basically "the five lacrosse-playing schools west of Pittsburgh plus one geographically insane patsy who's there to get us an autobid." Also, most of these conferences are lousy, which isn't going to change when the GWLL folds next year thanks to the advent of Big East lacrosse (Syracuse, Notre Dame, and five schools that aren't much good at lacrosse.) Then there's the ECAC which is not even close to the same thing as the hockey ECAC, and consists of teams from the following basketball conferences: 3 Big East, 1 Big Ten, 1 A-10, 1 D-III, and 2 MAAC (which is a lacrosse conference in its own right.) At least until next year when practically the whole membership shuffles. Our non-conference schedule this year consists of the following teams: Drexel, Bryant, Stony Brook, Mount St. Mary's, Syracuse, VMI, Cornell, Vermont, Towson, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth. Quick - name their conferences.

But back to the ACC. This four-team stuff is crazy and undesirable, in my mind. It causes several sucky situations:

- It sucks that an ACC regular season title means practically nothing.
- It sucks that losing in the ACC tournament means practically nothing - you're still going to the NCAAs.
- It sucks that UVA fans and students only get to go see one lousy conference game in Charlottesville. Two, sometimes.
- It sucks mildly that the ACC has no autobid. It's weird.
- It sucks that we don't get to play (read: beat the hell out of) VT in lacrosse because they have no team.

The too-easy solution would be to have ACC teams actually add lacrosse. If half our schedule is going to be games against opponents against whom it's nothing to deposit a 16-goal whupsticking, they may as well be against rivals and teams we care about beating, not Towson and Mount St. Mary's. If four more teams would add the sport, we'd have an eight-team league and something worth winning. They'd probably suck at first for several years, but they'd probably be respectable within a few years and the league would actually be interesting.

The first problem with this is that three teams in the league aren't in lacrosse territory and would have a tough time with it, so you're basically limited to BC, VT, Wake, and NC State. The other problem is Title IX. Don't get me started on this, it's a rant for another day. It makes it tough for schools to justify it financially, though, because they'd also have to find a way to level out funding for women's sports. Great shame, because BC fans would love to have men's lacrosse (they have women's) and they're not getting it.

The other solution would be to do like we did before: expand. Oh, wouldn't the Big East just absolutely love it if we did to them in lacrosse what we did to them in football and ganked all their best teams. That's probably not a good solution though. What would work better would be to cherry-pick some of the better teams from a few of the other conferences, plus invite Johns Hopkins. An eight-team superconference of UVA, UNC, Duke, Maryland, JHU, Navy, UMBC, and Loyola would be a terrific spectacle. There'd be real, honest-to-god pressure in the conference games because all of these teams are capable of beating each other, but there isn't room in the NCAA tournament for all of them. The regional rivalries would be spectacular.

Now, there's something to be said for the ACC being the ACC. Ohio State is kind of in a weird position, for example, because there's no such thing as Big Ten hockey or Big Ten lacrosse, so they participate in three conferences. And don't even try to fathom the bizarre cross-pollination between the Big East, A-10, CAA, Patriot League, and Lord knows who else. Still, I'd trade the "ACC tradition" (if there is one) of ACC teams being ACC only, in exchange for making lacrosse really interesting like this. Not that it's not interesting now, but it's mainly interesting because we're really really good. It could be better.

I dunno. Maybe this is an answer to a question that nobody but me is asking. Still - that eight-team league above is tantalizing, isn't it?

Quick notes:

- The baseball team can fulfill the goal I set for it of 11-5 in ACC play by Easter Sunday, but they will absolutely have to sweep Maryland this weekend to get there. It's doable, and they'd better, because sweeping Georgia Tech next weekend is not.

- With a 12th place finish for the women and a 9th place for the men in the NCAA swimming championships, the UVA swimming program as a whole is top-ten in the nation this year. Many many congratulations to the team and kudos to Mark Bernardino for the job he's doing building this powerhouse. Point-wise, though, there is a looooong way to go to catch up to the West Coast and southern powerhouses. If you combine all the points gained from both the men's and women's championships, the gap between seven and eight is positively ginormous. Still, the other ACC programs can't touch us.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

remember these guys?

Hey, we have a football team too, did you hear? They got uniforms and everything. It's way neat.

You'd be forgiven, of course, if you forgot this over the past week or so, what with there being a little bit of a hubbub over the basketball team. But the football team still exists, and it's even practicing, so accordingly, I've spent some time today updating the depth chart and recruiting board.

Here are the changes to the recruiting side of things:

- Moved TE Kyle Baublitz from red to yellow. His taking visits to UVA means that even though his offer pile his huge, ours isn't serving merely to keep the stack impressively large.

- Removed TE Josh Lovell. I see no interest on our end, really.

- Removed DE Zack McCray, who really just sort of confirmed the earlier thinking by point-blank saying he's not interested.

- OT Robby Havenstein likes our parking garage ($). I have absolutely no way of reflecting this on the board. Just thought you might like to know.

- RB Silas Redd took a visit to Penn State ($) this past weekend. Penn State is his dream school and will be extremely hard to beat. If he commits anywhere any time soon, it'll be there. If he hasn't committed in, oh, say, three weeks or so, then his recruitment will be one to watch closely.

And the changes to the depth chart:

- Nate Collins is now at defensive end, where he's been working all spring. To me this says Devlin and Parr aren't the answer after all. Might also want to keep an eye on Kevin Crawford's eligibility. It also frees up Nick Jenkins to be the clear starter in the middle, J-K Dolce to get a healthy share of time there, and Buddy Ruff can also get his foot in the door.

- I also added I's and O's to the linebackers. What this indicates should be pretty clear. I'd have made separate sections, but some of the lesser-used players (the walk-ons, mostly) would have been coin flips 'cause I don't know.

- What I have not done is add Vic Hall to the quarterbacks. Yes, I know he's working there exclusively this spring. However, Groh's comments on the matter implied (to me, anyway) that Hall was not going to be relieved of all cornerback duties. He just doesn't need the work there like he needs the work at QB. Hall is too good an athlete to keep off the field, and when he's not quarterbacking he'll probably be playing a fair amount of defense.

I otherwise don't have a lot of actual content today. I also have a confession to make. I am a bad bad bad UVA lax fan. Terrible. I totally forgot that our game with Maryland was a day game and not a night game, and so only turned on the game in the fourth quarter, having of course neglected to record it for posterity. I then turned it off, believe it or not, after three OT's, because I had hockey tickets for a game two hours away in Bridgeport and had to leave or miss the game. (This was supposed to be a Michigan game. It wasn't. I went anyway. I'm a sucker for live games.) So I'm terrible. Just terrible. But this story has a happy ending, because ESPN Classic rocks my socks. I was able to TiVo that broadcast and finish watching the game this week, and better yet, eventually it will show up in the videos section. What a wonderful world we live in.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tony Bennett rides into town

The moment Tony Bennett agreed to become the head coach at the University of Virginia, several items appeared on his to-do list:

- Win over the team.
- Win over the '09 signees.
- Hire assistant coaches.
- Get busy recruiting.
- Win over the fans.

Don't mistake the final item for a self-serving, what-about-us complaint. The fans can help a coach with a lot of that stuff. And more importantly as far as the AD is concerned, the fans are your revenue source. They buy tickets, they buy merchandise, and they also just hand over money because they like to, though this last stack of cash is wrapped in feel-good terms like "donation."

This post is the last one in which I'll compare Bennett to Tubby Smith. Promise. It's time to let go of that. But this needs saying: Tubby would not have had to worry about item #5 on that list. Tubby is Tubby, and his grace period would have been such that he could have blocked Tristan Spurlock's phone number and fans would shrug and say we don't need Spurlock. But the diehards have a couple years worth of emotions invested in Spurlock thanks to his rather long recruiting process, and absolutely zero emotions for Bennett other than the shock of seeing his name in the headline, and Bennett does not have the luxury, as far as fan relations go, of losing Spurlock.

(Neither Tubby nor Bennett has the luxury of losing him as far as actually playing basketball goes, by the way. If Spurlock and/or Jontel Evans, but especially Spurlock, decide not to come, the lack of any substantial talent in the graduating class of 2013 will be painful down the road.)

Bennett, for his part, is acting like the basketball coach at the University of Virginia in every aspect entailed by that title. Spurlock is important? Yes, Bennett thinks so - he was in touch less than 24 hours after the news broke of the hire. Evans, too. He's met with the players, who are saying the things you hope to hear from them after such a meeting. He's hiring his assistant coaches - the first is Liberty's former head coach Ritchie McKay. (McKay, by the way, should be a plus on the recruiting circuit. Anyone who can convince a big-time talent like Seth Curry to come to a school with a curfew and a prohibition on R-rated movies is a recruiter in my book.)

Right, so he's got the basketball coach part down. What about "at the University of Virginia"? I said the other day that Bennett has to be a Wahoo, not just be employed by the school. This is essential, and something that Dave Leitao admittedly fell a little short on. How about a guy who makes sure to wear an orange tie and knows the difference between a campus and the Grounds? This here WCAV interview displays both.

(OK, actually, I really don't care about the color of the tie. Somebody probably coached him up on that, or sent an intern down to the Fashion Square mall to pick one out for him, same way they coached him up on "Grounds" vs. "campus." I always thought people were way too fixated on the color of Coach Leitao's bloody damn tie. That doesn't help win games. I do like that he's making a clear effort to fit in. He talked about UVA being the right fit in that WCAV interview, and it's great to see him put in the effort to make sure that not only is UVA the right fit for him, but he's the right fit for UVA.)

Verdict: In just two short days, Bennett has brought UVA fans around from dismayed shock to "hey we need to give this guy a chance" to fairly well impressed. The steady stream of ringing endorsements have helped with that too.

There's a dissenting view, though - there always is. Adam Gottschalk is nitpicking the press conference. I dunno - I didn't get to watch the press conference because I have a job which requires me to do job-related things. I did watch that interview above though and I got the distinct impression Bennett is perfectly comfortable talking with the media. Others that saw the presser didn't come away with any such impression as, "forced, bereft of substance, and a little uncomfortable….he didn’t always sound like a guy with a lot of confidence in his system or philosophy." So I think we can safely file away Gottschalk as a minority opinion here.

Couple other notes: The ACC Sports Journal's Jim Young compiled the list of BCS-conference coaching hires in 2006, which would be when Bennett took over at WSU. Fourteen coaches on that list and none of them have more wins in that time at the school where they were hired than Bennett. One is tied, and you might recognize that other name if at any point you heard that Virginia was looking for a coach. Safe to say that very few if any of those schools were as happy with their choice as WSU was with Bennett.

Lastly, anyone who might look at the daily hit count for this blog would have no trouble at all guessing when UVA hired a new basketball coach. Monday set a new record for hits and page views. Tuesday laughed at Monday's puny little number. Gee, are you people interested in this coach stuff?