Redskins

Atlantic 10 handles realignment well

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Atlantic 10 handles realignment well

NEW YORK (AP) College basketball has polls and RPIs to let you know which teams are having the best season. There isn't anything to rate the commissioners. If there was, Bernadette McGlade of the Atlantic 10 would be getting some first-place votes.

At a time in college sports when realignment has become part of the lexicon, some leagues come out in good shape with new members that change the outlook for the positive. That, however, usually involves football programs at the forefront.

Not the Atlantic-10.

``One of our biggest keys is we just focused on what are the core values of the conference,'' said McGlade, who is starting her 13th season as A-10 commissioner. ``We're a basketball-centric conference. We can't get distracted by all the other noise out there in the business.''

Those must have been some headphones she was wearing.

Temple announced it was leaving for the Big East in March, but the Owls would play one more season in the Atlantic 10. On May 4, Charlotte, which is just starting a football program, announced it would be moving to Conference USA, but again the 49ers would be staying put for the 2012-13 season.

That was two days after Butler, which had been to consecutive national championship games in 2010 and 2011, got the college basketball buzzing when it said it was leaving the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10. About two weeks later, the buzz turned to a roar when VCU, which had been in the Final Four in 2011, said it was leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for the A-10. Both would be playing in their new conference this season.

``The year waiting was so important for us because the CAA rules say you can't play in the conference tournament that year,'' said VCU coach Shaka Smart, who became one of the most sought after coaches in the country when he led the Rams to the Final Four. ``It was huge for us to make the move right away. It was a bold decision by our administrators.''

There will be 16 teams in the Atlantic 10 in 2012-13. Forget the jokes about bad math and wrong names, the A-10 survived a summer of realignment as well as any league did, picking up two impressive new members without the league getting gutted.

``What we did, basically, was we knew if we were going to bring in any new members into the league it had to be institutions with a commitment to its men's basketball program and a broad-based athletic program as well,'' McGlade said Thursday at the league's media day at the Barclays Center. ``Given that was our fundamental principle, it was obvious of any institutions like that, Butler and VCU would be in the upper echelon of those programs.''

The A-10 has had at least three teams receive a bid to the NCAA tournament and it has had a team advance to the round of 16 in each of the last five seasons.

``Truly this is the next level,'' Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. ``A league loss on the road will no longer be treated catastrophically. The balance is outstanding. It will keep you up nights. The energy around the Atlantic 10, I've never seen it this high in October. It is extraordinary what the league administrators have done.''

The conference tournament moved from Atlantic City, where crowds were never really good, to the Barclays Center, the brand new arena located in Brooklyn and the home of the NBA's Nets. The A-10 announced this week that it has secured eight-year partnerships with ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Group for its television rights. The deals give the Atlantic 10 unprecedented distribution and marketing possibilities.

``This was an incredible league to start with,'' said Butler coach Brad Stevens, who has also been considered for several jobs after the consecutive championship game appearances. ``I hope we make it even better. I know VCU does, no question. This league will have multiple bids, the question is how many. Nobody will know that until March.''

Saint Joseph's, which has all five starters back from last season, was the preseason pick to win the Atlantic 10 with Saint Louis right behind.

The Hawks, who finished 20-14 last season, received 11 first-place votes and 434 points from the panel of coaches and media. The Billikens, who reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000, had 10 first-place votes and 432 points. They will not have coach Rick Majerus this season as he took a medical leave of absence in August while undergoing evaluation for an ongoing heart condition. Former Evansville and Army coach Jim Crews was named the interim coach.

VCU was picked third followed by Temple, Massachusetts, Butler, La Salle, Dayton, Xavier, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Charlotte, George Washington, Fordham, Rhode Island and Duquesne.

Rhode Island and Duquesne both have first-year coaches in Danny Hurley and Jim Ferry. Last year their teams at Wagner and LIU-Brooklyn were picked first and second in the Northeast Conference preseason poll. This season they were chosen Nos. 15 and 16.

``Looks the same as last year if you just hold the paper upside down,'' Hurley said with a laugh.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins and leadership, D-line potential

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Various sources

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins and leadership, D-line potential

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 21, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

How the addition of Alexander affects the Redskins' DB depth chart—Adonis Alexander was brought into the NFL about a week and a half ago and in five days he’ll be on the practice field in Richmond. How much will missing OTAs and minicamp hurt him in comparison to, say, his former Hokie teammate Greg Stroman? I think that the plan is for this to be a “redshirt” year for Alexander to learn. But that was supposed to be the plan for Josh Harvey-Clemons and Chase Roullier last year and both ended up playing key snaps. 

Can the Redskins defensive line live up to its potential? Many NFL fans don’t appreciate the value of having a good defensive line. Redskins fans are not in that group because they have seen what you get when you try to build a defensive line with over-the-hill veteran free agents, low draft picks, and undrafted players. Fans will value the talent, youth, and depth on the 2018 D-line.  

10 Questions in 10 days: LB depth chart—This is another area where the Redskins have not invested much in recent seasons. At least this year they stepped up and re-signed starters Mason Foster and Zach Brown. They are the present. Are Shaun Dion Hamilton and Josh Harvey-Clemons the future? 

The pass rush must continue to be a strength for the Redskins—With the picture at the cornerback position is somewhat murky right now, the pass rush will be critical, especially in the early going. The outside linebackers lost a key reserve, putting the burden on Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan to continue to get pressure on Ryan Anderson to take a leap forward in his second season. 

Tweet of the week

Well, this tweet did sort of stir things up as did some of the things that Cousins said in an article by Dan Pompei on the Bleacher Report. The thing about Twitter is that there is no room for nuance. I was labeled a Kirk “hater” by some. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. On multiple occasions, I urged the team to sign him long term and highlighted the positive aspects of his play. 

But this thing about not having a “platform” to lead always struck me as a cop-out. Cousins talked about it during some press conferences while he was here. The length of your contract should not prevent you from embracing a leadership role. You’re getting paid to lead, just do it. Few in leadership positions in business or in the military know where they will be a year from now. They embrace the role while they have it and Cousins should have done the same. 

The fact that I don’t like this one aspect of Cousins doesn’t mean that I don’t like him overall. He’s a good quarterback and I think he will have success with the Vikings. I think that the price got to be too much for the Redskins and the decision to move on to Alex Smith was sound or at least the best they could do after it became apparent that he was not going to sign here. But it’s not all one or the other. It is possible to see the positive and negative of Cousins. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline

Mike Sellers, whose seven receiving touchdowns in 2005 were the most by a Redskins running back since the merger, was born on this date in 1975.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 5
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 19
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 42

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 50 days. 

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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USA Today Sports Images

Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond.