What does new coach Tony Bennett or Virginia basketball have to do with Hampton Terrace? Not a thing.
But, I am a passionate fan of University of Virginia sports, and although occasionally we have U.Va alumni stay here, more often our guests come from Chapel Hill, Duke, Maryland, Boston College…. Virginia has become the Boston Red Sox of the ACC: teams that always are competitive, occasionally make a run for the top, but then more often than not, disappoint in the end.
Virginia football, under George Welsh, spent much time in the top 10 and has put as many star players in the NFL as any SEC or PAC 10 team. Virginia basketball has also had three or four runs in the top 10 since the 70s, when I was in school. But recently, the football and basketball teams have hovered in the lower half of the ACC.
Sports, in general, are quite strong at Virginia. Sports Illustrated annually ranks schools based on all sports, top to bottom, men and women. Virginia is strong in tennis, track, baseball, lacrosse and others….and usually ranks between 6 and 10 annually. Impressive. All the more reason why a new commitment to basketball and football is required.
After about four seasons of high hopes for new coach Dave Leito, and ultimate letdowns, Virginia moved beyond Leito to hire Tony Bennett from Washington State. This was a surprise to many, both Leito’s seemingly out-of-the-blue firing, to Bennett’s sudden acquisition of the job. One has to wonder if there was a deal in place before Leito was called into the AD’s office. Some Virginia alumni hoped for a more profile coach. Coaching basketballin the ACC is akin to coaching football in the SEC.
But it seems the confidence placed in Bennett is founded. A #11 recruiting class coming out of the gate! And success wil breed success. Of course, here is the Red Sox realism setting in: Although we are #11, we follow North Carolina, Duke, NC State and Wake Forest in that list. And in 2009, Georgia Tech had a top four listing.
The rich get richer….but at least now Virginia joins the group of teams putting distance between themselves and the rest of the country.
So why does this matter at Hampton Terrace? Because I live with our guests and we find things in common to talk about: good experience at restaurants, places we have visited in common…ACC basketball. Thanks, Coach Bennett, for putting me back into the conversation.