When you follow sports for as long as we have, you hear a ton of stories. Who is coming to UVa. Who is not coming to UVa. Why they aren’t coming to UVa. And why the hell are they going to Tech. We don’t usually write a column until things are done deals, but this one is very intriguing, and since I’m sick, I have a Saturday night free.
The news of this weekend has been that former Ocean Lakes QB Phillip Sims has asked for, and been granted, a release from Alabama, and is looking for a new home. The rumor has been circulating since before the Chic-Fil-A Bowl. It swelled to a fury, then died just as fast. Then on Thursday of this week the rumor started up again and on Friday it became official. And, if you haven’t guessed it by now, Virginia has been named as a possible destination.
Well, the cat might have been let out of the bag on Twitter this morning, but it is all but a done deal that Sims will be a Hoo. This means that one of the top quarterbacks, ranked as high as #2 in the 2010 class, will be coming back to his home state. And, as expected, the UVa boards are churning. So what are we to make about this latest move and how will this affect Virginia in 2012 and beyond?
First off, we need to address his transfer status. Normally, a transfer student must sit out a year before he is eligible to play for his new team. This would mean that he will have two years of eligibility left, 2013 and 2014. But, in this instance, Sims could be granted a waiver, which would make him eligible for 3 years, including 2012. This is the crux of the situation.
Here is our take. Virginia fans have endured a lot over the last decade. When the decision was made to bring in Mike London as head coach, he was tasked with turning the Cavalier program into a winner. If he sees that the addition of Phillip Sims adds value to the program, and that value can translate into wins on the field, then we need to embrace that. I don’t think that it comes as a surprise to the Wahoo faithful that the quarterback position has been in flux for a very long time. Last season, Rocco won the open competition and preformed decently. He is the incumbent this year and has a very good gasp of Lazor’s playbook. But this move might, and will, change this situation.
If Sims must sit out this year, the road is pretty clear for UVa. Rocco will still be the starter in 2012. After this season, you will see other open competition in 2013, with Sims, Lambert, Johns, and Watford all in the mix. Now, if the waiver is granted, you would have to believe that London will give Sims a shot at the starting role. Now he will not only have to absorb a new playbook in a few short months, but show the ability to run that offense. In addition, this would make the decision to redshirt Lambert pretty easy.
I will reiterate this again. If this indeed goes down, Virginia and Mike London would not have made this decision lightly. The Hoos have done their due diligence on this one with one thing in mind: winning. If that means that Rocco has to take a backseat, even in 2012, then that’s what it comes down to. Verica was deep on the depth chart before the QBs in front of him went down one by one, and I’m sure that Rocco understands that things always change as well. I still think that Rocco knowledge of Lazor’s system will give him a decided advantage, but the skill set of Sims (and Lambert) could prove too overwhelming to pass up on. Either way, we are looking at a Virginia Cavalier team that could be completely transformed over one weekend.