There is no love lost between the University of Virginia and quarterback Phillip Sims. In an unusual and harshly-worded statement, Cavaliers coach Mike London criticized Sims as he announced his departure. Sims, a transfer from Alabama, was rated the No. 1 quarterback of his class (ESPN) coming out of Oscar Smith High in Chesapeake. Sims is academically ineligible according to the school and will no longer be enrolled after completion of summer school.
“The thing we tell the young men who come to the University of Virginia to receive a world-class education and play for our football program is pretty simple,” said London. “Go to class. Show class and treat people with dignity and respect. Those directions are pretty easy to follow and they will lead you on a path of success.
“When an individual strays from those directions, it is very disappointing to me. Phillip Sims did not make the commitment he needed to succeed here. I appreciate his efforts last season. He is a very talented young man who is blessed with some extraordinary athletic abilities. I still believe Phillip Sims can and will be a successful person. We will do what we can to assist Phillip in continuing his academic and athletic opportunities elsewhere.”
Virginia worked hard to secure immediate eligibility for Sims who transferred last spring. The red-shirt sophomore played in all 12 games, starting four times. Sims completed 132 of 231 passes for 1,426 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions (119.1 rating). The Cavaliers trounced N.C. State in Sims’ first start, but lost the next three games – to Wake Forest, Maryland, and Duke – in which Sims started.
Sims’ high-profile presence appeared to unnerve incumbent Michael Rocco, who struggled last season after showing great progression in 2011, leading Virginia to four straight ACC wins and a trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Rocco transferred to FCS Richmond in December, and will play for his uncle, head coach Danny Rocco, this fall.
London will move forward with red-shirt sophomore David Watford and 6-foot-5 red-shirt freshman Greyson Lambert, who thoroughly out-played Sims and Watford in the Virginia spring game, completing 21 of 36 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
After two seasons of mild criticism for his indecision in employing quarterbacks, London at least will have a less-muddled situation next fall as he proceeds with players who have better work ethics.
“The young men who remain with this football program are committed and have done a great job in the classroom, in the weight room and on the practice fields,” London said in the statement. “Our team spring semester grade point average is the highest it has been in the past 10 years and we understand that for us to be successful on Saturdays in the fall, it will require that everyone involved in the program do what is necessary each and every day to prepare to win.”