THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Quit yer Pipe down and give London a chance
According to the Mayo Clinic, digestion normally takes between 24 and 72 hours. It has been considerably longer than that since UVA hired Mike London as its new head football coach, so all the bellyaching should be over by now.
But it's hard to believe there has been any bellyaching at all. After enduring nine seasons with the Coach Who Should Not Be Named, one would think Virginia fans would welcome even Lou Holtz with open arms.
But uh-oh. Though the hymns of praise and sighs of relief have been nearly deafening these past couple of weeks, every now and again one can still hear a grumbling undercurrent.
To all those people who continue to express dissatisfaction at Virginia's choice– and there are plenty of UVA fans among them– there can only be one question: what are y'all, crazy?
Okay, so Mike London's close association with former coach Al Groh is a little unnerving. Since he served under Groh in several different capacities– most notably as defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator– one must wonder if London emerged from that time untarnished or miserably infected with a virus that will rear its ugly head once his feet hit the Scott Stadium turf.
It's a legitimate concern, at least on the surface. It's like the old idiom: if you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas. There's no doubt some of Grohs habits and predilections rubbed off on London– how could they not when he spent years under Groh's tutelage? But when it comes to Coach London, it's best to remember another old idiom: don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Folks who doubt London's ability should bear in mind that he was able to do a lot more at Richmond than Groh was able to do at Virginia, and he did it with less money and less talent. People who think Richmond is too small to matter might remember that Groh's most successful years came when London was on his staff.
But when it comes to Mike London, the dissenters aren't always where you'd expect to find them. A good friend of mine, who is both a notable tenor and avid Hokie fan, was unable to berate UVA at church the other day. In fact, this man (who painted his vehicle maroon with an orange racing stripe) couldn't find a bad word to say about London. And he's not the only one. For the last couple of weeks, Tech fans everywhere have been literally dumbstruck–- and that's a nice change.
Don't doubt it– critics are still out there. Even the Washington Post can't seem to stop its notorious disparaging of UVA football. It's a hoot to read the Post's lame attempts at praise and then its retreat to familiar ground, ridiculing Groh's program rather than focusing on London's promise. On December 11, the Post claimed, "The differences between Groh and London will reveal themselves through time," though back in September the paper published a lengthy piece on London– a love-fest the paper promptly abandoned the minute he left Richmond for Charlottesville.
Somehow, the same man who (as the Post and so many others have rightly claimed) has provided miracles both on and off the field is now nothing more than a big question mark– and a Groh-inspired question mark at that. We can only urge those people to get it out of their system now. Sooner or later, they'll have to acknowledge that Mike London can offer more in a loss than Al Groh did in a win. No matter what bad habits London may have picked up from Groh during his time at Virginia, the things he walked away with were his expectations of academic excellence, respect for his staff, and a team mentality, much of which UVA's program grossly lacked during Groh's tenure (see credit card theft and academic suspension). That alone should be enough to stop the bellyaching.
Congrats to the UVA men's soccer team for winning the national championship, the team's first since owning the sport with four consecutive titles from 1991 to 1994!
~ Juanita Giles lives in Keysville where she makes videos and updates her Sports Doctor site. #