It's Christmastime, the time of blessed hope and salvation and biblically exciting stuff like that, so I'll send you off into the holiday break proclaiming the good news about a few things that probably have UVA fans a little bit jittery.
- Mike Scott. "ARGH" almost turned into "ARRRRGGHGGGHGHGHHG" when it was learned about half an hour before the Oregon game tipped off that Scott had had ankle surgery and would be out of the lineup.....and then his absence nearly caused a loss to one of the nation's utter worst teams. Fortunately, the Hoos escaped with a 50-49 win over Norfolk State (after handling Oregon impressively which would have been a lot more exciting had they not just lost to Idaho last night.) Assane Sene's tip of KT Harrell's missed free throw was the difference between gnashing our collective teeth over a loss that should never happen, and shrugging our collective shoulders in a way that says, "well, we play five freshmen, what did you expect?"
Because Scott's surgery was one of those arthroscopic deals, hope remains intact that he (and possibly Will Sherrill too) can be back for the Iowa State game on New Year's Eve Eve. The wake-up call sent by Norfolk State should remind everyone that tonight's Seattle game shouldn't be taken for granted either, but there still remains a very large, shiny silver lining to these two injuries: minutes for Akil Mitchell and Will Regan that wouldn't otherwise be there. Mitchell snagged six boards in 17 minutes against Norfolk State, so things are looking up on the development front.
- Ralph Friedgen. The Fridge's firing at Maryland has a lot of media wonks wondering, "COTY fired after an 8-4 season? Why, how can this be??" Actually, it's pretty logical. Disappointing to those of us who hoped that this season would give the Maryland admin reason to allow their program to further stagnate for a couple more years, but logical nonetheless. It's not hard to look at Maryland's roster and incoming prospects and realize that 8-4 is about the peak for the program as it is now. If 8-4 and a crappy invite to the Military Bowl is the best you'll ever do under the current coach, it's time to cut bait. The Terps are totally unable to protect this house on the recruiting trail: Maryland is, pound for pound, one of the better states in the country for football talent, and these days teams all around the East Coast and Midwest just waltz in there and take what they want. Of the top 20 prospects in Maryland, the Fridge convinced just two of them to commit to the Twerps, and one of them (Jeremiah Hendy) just decommitted. UVA has five of the Rivals top 20 and could add a sixth in Darius Jennings. You can see why the Maryland brass thinks this is an unacceptable situation.
The unfortunate part of this is that Maryland is after Mike Leach, and they'll probably get him. Some folks, myself included, were hoping they'd hire Mike Locksley from New Mexico, but they're not that stupid. However. Leach is well known for being an offensive genius and for turning Texas Tech into a national title contender, if only briefly. Even so, his teams were more often of the 8-5 variety than the 11-2 type. And even in his better years, 9-win type seasons, he stumbled too frequently against the Colorados of the world to pose a major Big 12 threat. Against ACC competition that doesn't feature a Texas or an Oklahoma, Maryland fans will be thinking multiple Orange Bowls with Leach, but don't you worry: if Mike London is the right guy for our program, then he'll win his share and then some against Maryland. And if not, then it won't matter who coaches Maryland.
- Demetrious Nicholson: yessss. Consider the defensive back situation moved up a peg from "still worrisome" to "more or less addressed." UVA adds another marquee name to the '11 class, and a threat to start from Day 1. Cornerback is now officially the strength of the class, with Nicholson teaming up with Brandon Phelps (among others) to wrest the title from the defensive line.
Recruiting board is updated accordingly, as is the depth chart because it needed it. (The recruiting board also sees the departure of Travis Hughes to UNC and Blake Countess to Michigan. Both are about the best result I could hope for without them actually committing to UVA: Hughes' other choices were VT and Maryland.)
That finishes it up. Christmas break commences now. As mentioned earlier, posting resumes on either the 28th or 29th, but probably the 29th since I have a busy 28th. Unless something sufficiently awesome happens between now and then, and I feel like breaking out the laptop. Merry Christmas. Here's hoping Santa brings you everything you asked for, and with luck he'll stop by the McCue Center chimney and drop off a playmaking wide receiver.