For two seasons, Michael Rocco had been the default quarterback for Virginia as coach Mike London tried to work less-experienced players into the lineup who presented more big-play potential and long-range upside.
If Rocco felt underappreciated, it was for good reason. On Sunday, Virginia announced Rocco had been granted his release from the school.
The Cavaliers also announced the departure of assistants Jim Reid (defensive coordinator), Jeff Hanson (defensive line), Mike Faragalli (running backs) and Shawn Moore (tight ends) and that Anthony Poindexter would be relieved of his special teams coordinator duties while remaining on the staff.
As a sophomore, Rocco (127.1 efficiency rating) clearly outplayed freshman David Watford (82.4), eventually winning the job and leading Virginia (8-5) to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. This fall, Rocco (129.7) and sophomore transfer Phillip Sims (119.1) battled on even terms, though Rocco had 10 interceptions to four for Sims.
Rocco, a junior, could transfer to another FBS school and sit out a season or perhaps end up at Richmond of the FCS, where he could play immediately for his uncle Danny Rocco.
The Spiders (8-3) juggled quarterbacks this season before settling on sophomore Michael Strauss, a former backup at Virginia who led Richmond to four straight wins to close the year.
Meanwhile at Virginia, there will be a clear pecking order of Tidewater area products: Sims No. 1 and Watford, who redshirted this year, No. 2. After two years of indecision and lack of direction, a clearly defined quarterback situation will be a welcome change in Charlottesville.