UVA Football: Phillip Sims Is a Cavalier, What Does This Mean for Michael Rocco?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IApril 30, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Michael Rocco #16 of the Virginia Cavaliers against the Auburn Tigers during the 2011 Chick Fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After much speculation, ESPN has confirmed that former Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims is transferring to the University of Virginia.

Sims, ranked as the second best quarterback in the class of 2010, is a rising sophomore with plenty of potential, athleticism and excitement surrounding him.

For most Virginia fans, this is exciting news. The same can't be said for starting quarterback Michael Rocco.

Rocco entered last season having to prove his worth. He had limited action in mop up duty in 2010 when the team went a paltry 4-8.

To begin 2011, Rocco was constantly looking over his shoulder as another mobile, talented Virginia Beach product David Watford was haphazardly shuffled in and out of every game.

The random rotation by coach Mike London truly hurt Virginia's offensive rhythm and confidence. It was not until Rocco was given the vote of confidence by his coach that things turned around and the Cavaliers rebounded to their first bowl game since 2007.

The numbers do not lie. In his first seven games of the season Rocco was 109-of-182 with four passing touchdowns and eight interceptions 

In his final six games, Rocco was 113-of-185 with nine passing touchdowns and four interceptions. More importantly, the Cavaliers were 4-2 in that stretch and one game away from capturing the Coastal Division.

Rocco seemed to have been taking the career path of Matt Schaub. A sophomore who battled with a mobile quarterback (Bryson Spinner) only to emerge the starter. Schaub went on to become the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in his junior year and eventually a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Houston Texans.

Finally, a position which had caused such consternation had been solidified.


Competition is not a bad thing. Phillip Sims is a talent that cannot be ignored and he makes the team better.

It does throw in a monkey wrench for the conventional wisdom crowd. Particularly if Sims is granted the special waiver he wants citing family reasons for his transfer.

If that happens, Sims will be allowed to play immediately as opposed to sit out a year and would instantly be fighting Rocco for that top spot.

Rocco certainly cannot be looking forward to proving his worth again and you worry if the battle could leave mental scars that could have ramifications.

You also worry if or how many of the other quarterbacks on the roster will adjust to this news. Is David Watford going to stay on the team?

Will Virginia lose its most recent class of 2013 commitments now that he sees how crowded it has become under center?

Sims brings change to the Cavaliers, something that fans had been clamoring for when former coach Al Groh was bringing the program to the cellar of the mediocre ACC.

The signing of Sims is a huge moment for Cavalier sports. He represents the changing culture that coach London preached about when he came to the Grounds.

His talent could put the Cavaliers on track to an ACC title in the next few years or could push Rocco towards even further greatness.

Without question, Virginia's offense has the potential to be explosive in the years to come and fans have reason to dream big.

Still, the signing of Sims has consequences for every player on that roster. The fallout may not be fully known for quite some time.