'Relationship guy': Mike London reveals coaching strategy
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.