Getting to Know Virginia Head Coach Mike London

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia head coach Mike London enters his fourth year running the Cavaliers football program, but not too many people outside Charlottesville, Va know who the man is, so let’s take a look at the man running the Cavaliers football program.

London has been in Virginia dating back to his playing days at Richmond from 1979-1982 and then later coached at his alma mater before stops at William & Mary, Boston College and eventually coming to Virginia in 2001 to coach the defensive line and then was named as recruiting coordinator in 2002.

After serving a one-year stint with the Houston Texans in 2005, London returned to campus where he was named the defensive coordinator to replace current Miami head coach Al Golden and London’s defense was outstanding and his aggressive play-calling led to a quick turnaround and helped develop defensive end Chris Long into the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft.

The back-to-back stellar defenses London put on the field led to a head coaching opportunity at Richmond where he quickly won the 2008 FCS National Championship and after winning the Colonial Athletic Association conference in 2009 lost in the FCS Quarterfinals, and finished with a top four ranking in the final rankings.

London’s success at Richmond led to his third coaching job at Virginia, but this time he was named the head coach to replace Al Groh, and his hiring was rather historic, because he was the first African-American head football coach in the state of Virginia and only the second in the ACC.

After a rocky first season in 2010 and a 4-8 record, London pulled off the turnaround many had hoped when he was named the head coach and was named the ACC Coach of the Year after an 8-5 record in 2011 that included wins over Miami and the school’s first win at Florida State.

However, the optimism that was built after the successful season in 2011 was quickly washed away in 2012 with another four-win season and a last place finish in the ACC Coastal Division with a 2-6 mark.

The 2013 season is a pivotal year for London, despite his contract running through 2016, to prove that 2011 was not a fluke. He has four years of his recruits under his belt and has to prove he can win with his players and two of those players that will go a long way toward securing his future are quarterback Phillip Sims and freshman running back Taquan Mizzell.

The 2013 season features two daunting opponents at the start with home games vs. BYU and Oregon, who likely will be ranked inside the top-five. These two games have the opportunity to crush the Cavaliers well before conference play or to give them momentum into what could be a similar campaign to that of 2011.

Pulling off an upset of the Ducks would be the perfect jump start to a 2013 season that could end up with a second bowl appearance under London, and give him some national recognition for the rebuilding effort he’s doing at Virginia.

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Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on Sportstownchicago.com airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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