NCAA

A year after epic upset, UMBC congratulates Virginia on their title

uva-celebration-2.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

A year after epic upset, UMBC congratulates Virginia on their title

In the college sports world, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Chesapeake Bay Retrievers are known for one thing: being the first team in NCAA Tournament history to knock off a No. 1 seed as a No. 16 seed. In one of the biggest upsets in sports history, they defeated the Virginia Cavaliers in the opening round of last year's tournament.

The UMBC Basketball Twitter account gained a significant following during last year's tournament. They had some very clever ways of celebrating one of the biggest upsets in school history.

That loss has been on the mind of every Virginia player since. Cavaliers guard Kyle Guy even changed his Twitter avatar to a picture of him crying with UMBC celebrating from last year's game.

But a year later, practically that same Virginia team defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Monday, winning their first National Championship in school history. What a difference a year makes.

When the final horn sounded Monday evening and the confetti came down, the UMBC basketball Twitter account was very supportive of the Cavaliers. In a very classy tweet, the program congratulated the Cavaliers on the title and an incredible turnaround from a season ago.

While UMBC may have had a lot of fun over the past year, the Cavaliers earned the last laugh, as they were the last team standing in 2019 after being one of the first eliminated in 2018.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill joins Hokies football staff to help Justin Fuente, not replace him

fuente_justin_tech.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill joins Hokies football staff to help Justin Fuente, not replace him

Virginia Tech is coming off a come-from-behind victory over FCS opponent Furman, they have an opening loss against Boston College which was just blown out by perennial punchline Kansas and, because they are playing two FCS opponents this year, they have to find a way to earn five more wins this season to keep the vaunted bowl streak alive. That was the background for Monday’s announcement from head coach Justin Fuente.

Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill has been added to the Virginia Tech football staff as a special assistant to the head coach, Fuente announced. With the lackluster start to the season, Monday’s announcement led to plenty of speculation from Hokie nation as to what this meant for Fuente’s future.

Make no mistake, however, Kill is headed to Blacksburg to assist Fuente, not replace him.

"Jerry Kill will serve as a tremendous resource for our football program," Fuente said in a statement. "Coach Kill possesses over three decades of expertise and will be great addition to our staff. In addition to over 20 years of experience as collegiate and high school head coach, he's served as a coordinator on both sides of the ball. He can dissect the game from virtually every angle and will be able to provide his unique perspective on everything from recruiting, to personnel and facilities.

"After Coach Kill spent some time with our staff during preseason camp, it was apparent that he possesses a passion for being involved with a football program on a daily basis," Fuente continued. "I have all the respect in the world for Coach Kill. I'm excited that he'll be an integral part of our program at Virginia Tech and can't wait for him to get on campus."

Kill was the head coach of Minnesota from 2011 to ‘15 and took the team to three bowl games. He also was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2014. His epilepsy, however, forced him to step down. The rigors of coaching consumed Kill to the point that he was not taking care of himself or adequately managing his condition. He suffered multiple seizures while at Minnesota, many of which came during games.

Since then, Kill has served as an associate athletics director at Kansas State, the offensive coordinator at Rutgers and the athletics director for Southern Illinois.

During this time, however, the desire to coach and be involved with a football team never went away. That was really the genesis of how he ended up at Virginia Tech.

According to Andy Bitter of The Athletic, Fuente invited Kill to watch a few of the team’s August practices and Kill provided feedback on what he saw. Originally , his relationship with the Hokies was not expected to go beyond that and Fuente did not intend for a job to come from that, but Kill’s desire to get back into football was enough for him to leave his job as an AD to join Virginia Tech.

"While it was a difficult decision to leave so many wonderful friends and colleagues at Southern Illinois, I am thrilled for the opportunity to join Coach Fuente and his staff at Virginia Tech," Kill said in a statement. "I've long appreciated and admired Justin as a coach and teacher of the game. I respect his penchant for identifying talent and helping young men reach their potential. He has assembled a fabulous coaching staff and roster of talented players at Virginia Tech. I can't wait to help the Hokies in any way I can."

The timing of this announcement may lead to speculation, but Kill’s health will not allow for him to get back into coaching. This is just a situation in which Fuente had the opportunity to help a fellow coach follow his passion and, in turn, Kill will help the Hokies.

Tony Bennett turned down a pay raise because his staff needed it more

tony_bennett_uva_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Tony Bennett turned down a pay raise because his staff needed it more

Tony Bennett is one of the few people in sports to be offered a raise and turn it down.

Instead of adding dollars to his current contract, the Virginia men's basketball head coach would rather that money be used for other purposes. He wants additional funding, that would be used for a raise, to be given to his assistants or to help other aspects of the program. 

“I have more than I need,” Bennett said in a release. “I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.”

This past season Bennett lead the Cavaliers to their first NCAA men's basketball national championship. Rewriting UVA's history books, of course, warrants Bennett to be rewarded with a new deal and with it an increase in pay. But in a meeting with athletic director Carla Williams and university president Jim Ryan, where a "substantial raise" was discussed, he turned it down.

“This just does not happen in our industry,” Williams said in the release.

He did, however, add another year to his contract. It keeps Bennett in Charlottesville for seven more seasons.

Additional salary money for his assistants is definitely a huge boost to the program is trying to build. Every year several of the top 'Power Five' assistant coaches are the sought out targets of new head coaching candidates and lower programs. For example, Dennis Gates moved as an assistant at Florida State to the head coaching spot at Cleveland State this offseason. Year-in and year-out, a coach has to expect to deal with staff turnover.

In his 10-year tenure with the Cavaliers, Bennett has turned Virginia into national contenders. Since 2014, the Cavaliers have earned a No. 1 seed into the NCAA Tournament four times, including the past two years. They've also won two ACC tournament championships and three regular-season titles in that span.

Currently, all three of his assistants from last year's championship team are staffed for the upcoming season. His top assistant, Jason Williford, has been with Bennett ever since he took over the program.

This practice of requesting money being diverted to assistants is not new. Jim Larranaga left George Mason for Miami because of his request to pay assistants more money was declined. 

Bennett is even showing further support for the program. He has donated $500,000 toward a career-development program in place for current and former players of the program.

MORE NCAA NEWS: