It looks like the Villa 7 is heading to Minnesota.
VCU associate athletic director Mike Ellis, the brainchild behind the event, has decided to follow AD Norwood Teague to the Gophers. Villa 7 has been a project that has networked elite assistant coaches with athletic directors.
"Mike Ellis has been instrumental in connecting potential head coaches with their future employers," VCU head coach Shaka Smart told CBSSports.com. "More so than any search firm. Aided by the tremendous support of Nike, Mike has made Villa 7 one of the premiere professional development opportunities in our business."
"Where do you get an intimate setting for an AD to really know who you are?" Syracuse coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins said. "That is what this provides."
The project is now heading into its 10th year -- and more than 90 coaches who have been involved have gotten head jobs. We're talking guys like Shaka Smart (VCU), Buzz Williams (Marquette), Josh Pastner (Memphis), Chris Mack (Xavier), John Groce (Illinois), Archie Miller (Dayton), Paul Lusk (Missouri State), Ed Cooley (Providence), Anthony Grant (Alabama), Dave Rice (UNLV), Dan Muller (Illinois State), Pat Skerry (Towson) and numerous women's coaches as well.
Not only is this a huge get for the Minnesota program due to Ellis' involvement with Villa 7, but it'll also be critical when the time comes to replace Tubby Smith. I'm not saying Smith will be retiring in the next year or two, but he is 61 -- and no one has more connections at the administrative level than Ellis.
Ellis was the one who put a then-unknown assistant named Shaka Smart in front of Teague, who pulled the shocker and hired the Rams head coach.
That's worked out pretty well.