'Relationship guy': Mike London reveals coaching strategy

news-london-b2UVA athletic director Craig Littlepage, left, introduces UVA's new head football coach Mike London. PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR

UVA athletic director Craig Littlepage announced that University of Richmond head football coach Mike London will replace recently fired UVA head football coach Al Groh. London comes to UVA after only two seasons as head coach for the Spiders, but Littlepage expressed no reservations about his decision.

“We need a coach that can win,” Littlepage told the crowd of spectators and media that had gathered in the dining hall at John Paul Jones Arena. “Mike stood out on the strength of his character, as a coach, teacher, and leader. He will give UVA football an exciting jump start.”

London racked up a 24-5 record at Richmond and won the 2008 Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) title.

London becomes the third African-American head coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The selection isn’t a complete departure from the Groh years, as London, 49, served as an intern for the New York Jets when Groh was head coach there, and as an assistant defensive coach under Groh for six years at UVA.

“But I’m my own man, and I have my own style,” said London when asked about the connection with Groh.

“I will make winning a priority,” said London, “but by doing it the right way.”

London, a former Richmond police detective who served in a street crime unit–- and who narrowly cheated death in the 1980s–- made it clear that a lot would be expected from his players, academically, athletically, and personally. In fact, London outlined his rules of the program as, “go to class, show class in everything you do, and treat people with dignity and respect.”

Asked about his offensive strategy for the team, London didn’t hesitate.

“Score fast and as often as you can,” London said half-jokingly before emphasis turned to player recruitment. “We’ll be looking for young men who can make a difference on one play; that’s critical.”

London called himself a “relationship guy” and talked about how important it was to build them, both within the team and with the wider community.

“You can diffuse so many situations by communicating with people,” said London, alluding to the pressures of being a head coach, and mentioning that his police work had taught him that.

“People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care,” said London.

Unlike his old career chasing crooks, this one seems to pay better: $1.7 million annually for the first five years.

Read more on: mike londonuva football


He'll fail like the Al Groh did if he doesn't get any support from the top on down. That was a big problem there. Littlepage should have been fired. There are more people responsible other than the coach.

You want to see fan support go to a Virginia Tech football game- 20 minutes before kickoff the house is packed and they are loud with support winning or losing but for the past 10 years they have not lost many.....

UVA fans are flat- no school spirit maybe because they think there so much better than the rest? good school but not what they make it out to be. VT has taken over as being the state school

By the way after the Volunteers take a beat down new years eve that will make 10 years straight for 10 win seasons for the bad boys from over the mountain

Mike J you average fan isn't Craig Littlepage's boss. Lascrosse games have been played infront of nearly 50,000 in a single game. The CWS is a very well atttend tourney overall. UVa's soccer stars have played infront of crowds larger than any in the history of any game ever held in charlottesville. Is your point that only Football and Basketball matter to fans and alumni.

mike london- great another loser at UVA

As an alum, a football season ticket holder, and mid-level donater, I'm excited about the selection of Mike London and excited about the possibilities. Go Hoos!

To the Littlepages haters I say you are wrong and don't know what the heck you are talking about. Virginia was a top ten NCAA program in the country last year. That was the mission Littlepage was charged with. Has football and basketball been in need of huge improvements- you bet. But to be dismissive of Littlepage is ignorant of facts and the college sports program everywhere.

Littlepage never hired Groh- and anyone who was here at the time will tell you Groh was the best we could get considering the shabby way George Welsh was treated by Terry Holland. The past basketball coach was a failure of Littlepage but at the time look like a good idea. Bennett looks to be good only if he can bring quality players here. The same goes for London who looks like he can bring to UVA many players who had gone to Va Tech.

The university built the football team a new stadium , building, weight room and just about anything they needed. Lack of support-based on what ??? The only thing they didn't get was an indoor pratice field. Firing Groh became about business- empty seats on game day are lower cash for the football team and every other sport as well. The Athletic program did screw up when they re-seated Scott Stadium so soon after getting millions for JPJ. It was such a bonehead move that the athletic foundation is still trying to repair the damge from it. Virginia owes their football fans more and the hiring of London is just the start.

I agree with "diagoliv" and "Al Groh Supporter". An A-D is supervised by those above. Littlepage has been in the business for many years in many different capacities from assitant coach, to coach, up to the A-D and ACC positions. Being an A-D is like being a sales manager- yo deal with people and have no control over the hiring managers or the results. All you really do is manage the programs and take the hits when they come, and the accolades when they are available.

Littlepage does a great job.

I wonder what his thoughts are on "painting the stadium orange" and trying to eliminate dressing up for games.

quote: "$1.7 million annually for the first five years."

Absolutely amazing!

The American Dream come true!

First place I would head is Colonial Auto and buy a brand new Escalade!!!

I didn't know Richmond lost. I hate App St.

and 20 dollars annually for each assistant. I am sure he will receive no support in trying to build a football program from the University.

The programs that are looked at are football and basketball. Your average fan doesn't care about swimming, rowing and field hockey. When is the last time you seen 65,000 at a lacrosse game. Doesn't matter of Littlepage hired him or not. He did not communicate with him about the program needs nor did many others from the start. I wouldn't expect you to know these things since you are on the outside looking in. The fans there are fair weather fans. As long as they winning they are fans and that should change.

Littlepage has finally made a good decision with Mike London hire, If he would only allocate more money for support and assistant coaches that would complete the process and we could maybe gain some ground on VT in football

diagoliv wrote: "The past basketball coach was a failure of Littlepage but at the time look like a good idea."

That's 100% incorrect. Littlepage was pursuing and was on the verge of signing Tubby Smith. John Casteen, who was in love with Dave Leitao from their time together at UConn, pulled the trigger on hiring Leitao.

Yes, the same John Casteen who manipulated the ACC to admit Va. Tech instead of Syracuse, putting Tech on even footing with UVA for in-state recruiting. The same John Casteen who can't get out of town fast enough for any true Wahoo.

Just a clarification on the "true Wahoo" thing, Music Lover. By "true Wahoo" you surely mean "Wahoo who cares only about football and men's basketball success, not about success in non-revenue sports nor in success in fundraising for the academic side of the university."

Because by most measures other than fb/bb success, John Casteen has not been such a bad president.