Louisville joins ACC; UVA staying put?

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Louisville joins ACC; UVA staying put?

Another week, another change to the Atlantic Coast Conference dance card. After founding member Maryland recently two-stepped its way to the Big Ten, the ACC once again sashayed over to the Big East for its latest addition, announcing on Wednesday that basketball-heavyweight Louisville would becomes the conference's 14th member. The Cardinals, coached on the hoops side by Rick Pitino, are the seventh program to bail on the once-mighty Big East conference in the last 18 months and the seventh to Big East school to joint the ACC since 2003-04.

Louisville reportedly beat out Connecticut and Cincinnati in the race to fill Maryland's vacated - and still warm - slot. However, don't think for a second the game of conference realignment musical chairs is over. The Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Big 12 are all reportedly on the hunt for more schools, looking to swell its membership to 16 because this is how things are done these days. Super, gigantic, mega conferences or bust, so the mantra appears.

Various reports have the Big Ten eying other ACC schools including North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia. In his attempt to tamp down any speculation, Virginia's Athletic Director Craig Littlepage issued a statement Tuesday night before the ACC school President's voted on the latest round of expansion.

"During the past week there have been numerous reports and rumors linking the University of Virginia to interest in membership in other athletic conferences,' Littlepage said. "Due to the recent changes that have taken place with conference realignment around the nation, I think it is important for us to put an end to this speculation as it relates to UVa.

"The University of Virginia is a proud member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Neither representatives of the athletics department, nor President Teresa Sullivan, has received invitations to nor sought membership in other conferences. The ACC's commitment to its members and their student-athletes is the finest in the country. We look forward to continuing this relationship far into the future. Our goal is to continue supporting the ACC and its initiatives for long-term success.

"I have expressed this stance to ACC Commissioner John Swofford, and I want to take this opportunity to express that same commitment to our alumni, fans, supporters, student-athletes and coaches. We firmly stand behind the Atlantic Coast Conference."

North Carolina also made similar claims this week of wanting to stick with the ACC. We'll see about that. In the meantime, the ACC is suing Maryland following last week's conference changing announcement. Guess there are $50 million reasons why we knew this was coming. Getting Virginia and any other program thinking about jumping ship attention's, also a factor.

Back to Louisville. Considering the program's national championship hoops history and current Final Four contender status under Pitino, the swap with Maryland is hardly a downgrade (should Pitino return to his vagabond coaching roots and bail in the near future, and Mark Turgeon keep recruiting like his life depends on it, then we might have to revisit the exchange rate).

Obviously that's not the case with the television markets. Losing the Washington-Baltimore region is going to sting for the ACC, but Louisville represented the best of the remaining options (if Jim Calhoun remained in coaching perhaps Connecticut could have made such a claim). As for the football, kind of eh on both sides, though Louisville figures to have a greater chance for success in the ACC then Maryland will in the Big Ten.

Since 2003-04, seven schools have left the Big East for the ACC; Virginia Tech, Miami, Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame (football only) and now, Louisville. Considering the final four names on that list remain in the Big East for now, the conference will have its own Big East-ACC challenge on an almost nightly basis. So, there's that.

Speaking of the Big East, the conference this week announced Tulane's addition as a full-time member with East Carolina joining for football only. Good luck with that.

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kurt Benkert threw five touchdown passes, the last three after Virginia had squandered all of a 28-0 lead, and the Cavaliers gave coach Bronco Mendenhall his 100th career victory, 49-35 over Central Michigan on Saturday.

Benkert hit Olamide Zaccheaus with a go-ahead 82-yard pass after the Cavaliers defense forced its first punt since the opening quarter. Virginia (1-3) forced another punt, and Benkert hit Albert Reid for a 5-yard touchdown, capping a 73-yard drive. Taquan Mizzell also scored twice for Virginia on runs of 4 and 53 yards.

"That's a happy group of young men in that locker room," Mendenhall said. "I'm certainly not saying we've arrived, but it's a nice start."

The Chippewas (3-1), seeking their first 4-0 start since 1985, scored on four of five possessions after going behind 28-0 less than 20 minutes into the game.

Cooper Rush for 402 yards and two touchdown passes to Corey Willis, including an 85-yarder, and Amari Coleman read a screen pass perfectly and scored on a 47-yard interception return.

Mendenhall, in his first year at Virginia, was 99-43 in 11 seasons at BYU before coming east.

THE TAKEAWAY

Central Michigan: The Chippewas are a confident team, and showed it even when trailing by three touchdowns in a loud stadium. They used timeouts when Virginia had the ball late in the second quarter to stop the clock, and cashed in with two touchdowns in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half to get within 28-14.

Virginia: Rush picked apart the Virginia secondary, which lost cornerback Juan Thornhill on the first play of the game. The unit also lacks speed and played off the Central Michigan receivers for much of the day, allowing several long completions that produced third-down conversions. Kareem Gibson was a frequent target, but acquitted himself with a fourth-quarter interception to set up an insurance TD.

UP NEXT

Central Michigan: The Chippewas head into Mid-American Conference play at home against Western Michigan.

Virginia: The Cavaliers, losers of 17 in a row on the road, will try to end that skid as they open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at Duke.