It has been quite an eventful day at Virginia.
Coach Mike London announced that quarterback Michael Rocco has been granted his transfer request, and that he has fired four members of his coaching staff. Associate head coach/defensive coordinator Jim Reid, defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Hanson, running backs coach Mike Faragalli and tight ends coach Shawn Moore are all out in the wake of a disappointing 4-8 season and last-place finish in the Coastal Division.
London also announced safeties coach Anthony Poindexter will no longer be the Cavaliers’ special-teams coordinator but will remain on staff.
The news on Rocco does not come as a huge shock, considering the way London rotated him and Phillip Sims this season. Rocco entered the year as the starter, then lost his job to Sims, then shared duties with him in the final games of the season. He ended 2012 with 1,917 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
His 2,671 passing yards in 2011 ranks as the fourth best single-season total in Virginia history. He leaves the Cavalier program ranked eighth on the all-time passing list with 4,731 yards. Sims, who transferred in from Alabama this season, should now enter spring ball as the starter for the Hoos.
"After meeting with Michael and discussing his future with our program and his personal goals and interests, I understand his desire to complete his college football career elsewhere," London said in a statement. "Michael has been an outstanding member of our program on the field, in the classroom and in the community. I appreciate the competitive nature, work ethic and leadership he brought to our program and I wish him the best in his future endeavors."
As for the staff changes, all four coaches have been members of London’s staff since he took over the UVa program in December 2009. Hanson and Faragalli were also members of London’s staff at Richmond during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. We had seen marked improvement from the young UVa defense in the second half of the season, but that wasn't enough to save Reid's job.
"After conducting a complete evaluation of the program and discussing my thoughts with administration, there are a number of areas we need to improve on and it starts with me as the head coach," London said in a statement. "The decision to release these four coaches is very difficult, but one I feel is necessary in order to meet the goals we have set for the Virginia football program. I have coached with some of these men for many years, won a national championship with some, and I truly appreciate their dedication and commitment, and more importantly, their friendships. I wish them all the best."
The total buyout for the four assistant coaches is $1.36 million, though that number could decrease with future employment.