VCU is moving on.The Richmond program will leave the Colonial Athletic Conference and join the Atlantic 10 in 2013, according to CBSSports. If official, the Rams would join Butler as a new conference member. Thetwo schools played in a combined three Final Four appearances in the past three seasons. The additions would also offset the loss of Temple to the Big East and Charlotte to Conference USA while boosting the conference's status to the king of the so-called mid-majors.The VCU news comes days after George Mason announced last week that after kicking some Atlantic 10 tires, it was staying put in the CAA. Perhaps, according to the CBSSports report,the Patriots were simply not invited."On Friday, George Mason, which along with VCU and Butler had discussions with the Atlantic 10, announced it was staying in the CAA. However, sources told CBSSports.com at the present time the Atlantic 10 was looking to add only one more school and VCU got the nod over Mason."Though VCU has managed to land a spot in recentNCAA tournaments as a member of the CAA, the league is not always a lock for an at-large bid. CBSSports notes that since 2000, the CAA has received only four at-large NCAA bids. This season the Rams, winners of theCAATournament and thus the automatic bid,were the only CAA school in the field of 68. Meanwhile, the Atlantic 10 has received multiple bids in five consecutive seasons. Financially, that adds up."Since 2006 even with George Mason and VCU reaching two Final Fours the CAA only accrued 24 NCAA tournament units (awarded for every round advanced in the NCAA), compared to 36 for the Atlantic 10. Each unit is worth about 250,000."If the reports prove accurate, it would only be the latest, though most significant blow to the CAA, which has already lost Georgia State to the Sun Belt this offseason. Reports suggest Old Dominion could be next.The Norfolk schoolis considering a move to Conference USA with a decision expected later this summer.From the George Mason perspective, the glass half-full argument is without VCU (and perhaps ODU), its path to that automatic bid becomes easier, perhaps dramatically so. Of course, without one or both of those programs, the CAA loses much of its appeal - and RPI status. Without those programs, the Patriots lose two of their main rivals. While VCU starts checking out its new neighborhood, George Mason might need to reassess its current location. Maybe that involves helping the CAA find new blood or finding its own landing spot, though the BCS conferences are out and anything scenario outside the Atlantic 10 seems like a downgrade. In other words, the Patriotsshould make sure their LinkedIn and Evite accounts are active.
Virginia Tech had itself a day on Saturday as four prospects committed publicly to the football program. Three players are from the 2017 class while the Hokies also grabbed their first commitment for 2018.
Wide receiver Sean Savoy, linebacker Jaylen Griffin and offensive lineman Aiden Brown committed from the class of 2017. Wide receiver Bryce Thompson from the class of 2018 committed also committed. Savoy is a three-star prospect and Brown is a two-star. Both Griffin and Thompson are unrated, per Rivals.
In addition to the four commitments, there is more good news out of Blacksburg as four-star defensive end TyJuan Garbutt also visited the school over the weekend.
Garbutt is the eleventh ranked defensive end in the country. He was previously committed to Virginia Tech, but decommitted earlier in July. Despite the decommitment, Virginia Tech remains the leader to land the prized prospect.
If you were hoping for some clarity from Bronco Mendenhall at the ACC Kickoff on Virginia's quarterback race, he provided none.
Matt Johns returns for his senior season, but he is competing with transfers Connor Brewer and Kurt Benkert to remain atop the depth chart in 2016. Mendenhall is certainly in no hurry to name a starter.
"We currently have three quarterbacks in contention that we will carry through fall camp before we make a decision," Mendenhall said.
Despite starting for the past two seasons, Johns did not do enough to entrench himself as the starter. Johns threw for 2,810 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015, but he also threw 17 interceptions. Mendenhall praised his poise and experience, but his play has left an opening for Brewer and Benkert.
Brewer served as Johns' backup last season after transferring from Arizona. He appeared in only two games for the Cavaliers, completing 4-of-8 passes for 34 yards and an interception. His progress in the offseason, however, has pleased the coaches and has thrust him into the midst of the quarterback competition.
"Connor Brewer had a very good spring, much more efficient and effective than any of us expected," Mendenhall said. "He was just grateful for a chance. But he made the most of it."
The newest quarterback of the three to Charlottesville, Benkert may also be the most intriguing. He transferred to Virginia from East Carolina in the spring after missing the entire 2015 season with a knee injury. ECU head coach Ruffin McNeil, now the defensive line coach at UVa, named Benkert the starter before he suffered the injury.
Unlike the other two quarterbacks, Benkert also has two years of eligibility remaining which is a very appealing prospect to the head coach.
"We're very intrigued by what we've seen from [Benkert] with the upside that he has two years of eligibility,' Mendenhall said. "There is a nice bridge there that could be formed with the possibility of more experience."
As Mendenhall begins rebuilding the Virginia program, having too many options at the quarterback position is potentially a positive development for the Cavaliers. UVa may need help in a lot of areas, but if they come into the season feeling confident under center it will make the transition to a new coach that much easier.
Because of the importance of the position, however, it's a decision Mendenhall has to get right and he intends to take his time before he makes it.
"I won't know until fall camp is over," Mendenhall said. "We'll have to do a masterful job of orchestrating fall camp to distribute the repetitions enough to be clear enough as to who is the uncontested leader."
Taking over for a legend is never easy, but that's the position Justin Fuente now finds himself at Virginia Tech.
Frank Beamer built the football program at Virginia Tech into a national power during his 29 seasons in Blacksburg. Fuente now takes over looking to preserve the Hokies' 23-year bowl streak and return to the team to the heights reached during Beamer's peak.
“I feel pressure to do a good job because Virginia Tech football means a lot to a tremendous amount of people," Beamer said. "It’s important."
With that comes a lot of expectations. Fuente wouldn't have it any other way.
"It’s great to coach at a place with expectations," Fuente said at the ACC Football Kickoff. "There is a lot that comes with that and I understand that. That’s just the way it is. But it’s fun to coach at a place that means so much to so many people."
Fuente's task is made more difficult as Virginia Tech finds itself at a crossroad of sorts. After eight straight seasons of 10 or more wins, the Hokies have not won more than eight since 2011. Rather than competing for ACC Championships, Virginia Tech has had to battle just to reach bowl eligibility.
For Fuente, he recognizes that fans do not just expect him to extend the bowl streak. His job is to return the Hokies to national prominence
"We’re taking over a program that is not where we want it to be," Fuente said. "When I say ‘we,’ I mean Hokie Nation. We want it to be back to where it was ... but we will get it there. I know that for a fact.”
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