Mike London Named Virginia's Next Football Coach

By: Marc Davis Email
By: Marc Davis Email

December 7, 2009

The University of Virginia held a press conference Monday at 1:00pm where Mike London was introduced as the Cavaliers' next head football coach. This came one day after Virginia requested permission from Richmond officials to speak to their head coach.

Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a press release that London's experience and variety of coaching assignments position him for success with the Cavaliers.

London agreed to a five-year deal, in which he'll be paid $1.7 million annually.

Several published reports indicated that London held a team meeting with his Richmond players on Sunday to inform them he had been offered the Virginia job.

The Cavaliers fired Al Groh last Sunday after a 3-9 finish and immediately began an official nationwide coaching search, but London had always been rumored to be at the top of the list. He served on Groh's staff on two separate occasions, most recently as defensive coordinator from 2006-2007. London was the defensive line coach from 2001-2004, and had the title of recruiting coordinator added in 2002. He served as the Houston Texans' linebackers coach in 2005 between his two tenures at Virginia.

London accepted the head coaching job at his alma mater in January of 2008 and led Richmond to its first ever FCS National Championship in 2008, as the Spiders finished 13-3. His second season at the head of the Richmond sideline came to a close Saturday night with a 35-31 loss to Appalachian State in the NCAA Quarterfinals. London has an overall record of 24-5 in two seasons at Richmond.

His reputation for being a strong recruiter is one reason he and Virginia make a perfect match. London has experience recruiting in eastern Virginia's Tidewater area, one that Virginia Tech has held a heavy advantage in recently when it comes to recruiting.

During a meeting last Sunday with the Cavalier football team, Craig Littlepage said that he'd like the next head football coach to have ACC experience and a history of winning, according to CBS19 sources. London fits that criteria.

According to London's agent, Virginia was at least the fourth school to request permission to speak with London about a head coaching vacancy. Western Kentucky, Akron and Memphis have also done the same. London's agent's comments were reported by the Associated Press.

Monday's press conference was seen live on CBS19 starting at 1:00 pm.

The following is the official UVa press release:


Mike London, the head football coach at the University of Richmond for the last two years, is the new head football coach at the University of Virginia, UVa Athletics Director Craig Littlepage announced today. London will be returning to head up a Cavalier program where he twice previously served stints as an assistant coach. He becomes the 39th coach in the program's history.

"Coach London's experience as a championship head coach, combined with a variety of college and pro assistant coaching assignments position him for success at the University of Virginia," Littlepage said. "He understands how to develop and implement a program that prioritizes the academic achievement of his players and winning at the highest levels of college football. Mike London is a coach around whom we can all rally as he goes about the task of building a successful football program at Virginia."

In two seasons at Richmond, London led the Spiders to a 24-5 record. His first year at the helm his team went 13-3 and won the Football Championship Series national title. This year's Spider team, ranked nine consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the FCS polls, went 11-2 and reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. His teams were 13-4 in the Colonial Athletic Conference during the 2008 and 2009 campaigns.

"We are pleased to welcome Mike London back to the University," said University President John T. Casteen III. "Mike's personal values and commitment to excellence - combined with his understanding of University culture and his proven ability to build a strong team - will make the London era in Virginia football a good time, perhaps the best of times, for players, fans, and the University generally."

"Words cannot express my gratitude and heartfelt emotions for this opportunity," London said. "To be the head football coach at as prestigious of an institution as the University of Virginia is a dream come true. Over the years, a lot of people have helped me to make this possible. I have been fortunate to stand on the shoulders of many coaches, players, administrators and University communities in which my family has lived. We are excited about this new opportunity and endeavor. We look forward to establishing a renewed relationship with our new community and football family."

London's efforts in 2008 earned him FCS National Coach of the Year honors from both the American Football Coaches Association and Schutt Sports/ American Football Monthly magazine. London was also honored as the Black Coaches Association Male Coach of the Year in 2008, beating out Mike Tomlin of the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers for the award. In addition to the national honors, London was tabbed the State Coach of the Year from both VaSID and the Peninsula Sports Club.

Under London's watch, 16 Spiders were named to the All-CAA Football Team in 2009 after placing 12 in 2008. His first year at UR, nine Spiders garnered 15 All-America awards and six were recognized on the Academic All-Conference Team. DE Lawrence Sidbury was a fourth-round NFL draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons, while RB Josh Vaughan was a free-agent signee by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Before returning to coach his alma mater, London spent six of seven seasons coaching for Al Groh at Virginia. In 2001 London joined the UVa staff for the first time as the defensive line coach. He took over the responsibilities as recruiting coordinator in 2002. In 2005 London left UVa to work as the defensive line coach for the NFL's Houston Texas. He returned to Virginia in 2006 as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach.

During his tenure with the Cavaliers, he saw five defensive players (Chris Long, Marcus Hamilton, Chris Canty, Andrew Hoffman and Monsanto Pope) drafted by NFL teams. Long was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, earned unanimous All-America honors, was the Ted Hendricks Award winner as the nation's top defensive end and the second overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.

A native of Hampton, Va., London played defensive back at Richmond from 1979-82. Under head coach Dal Shealy, he led the Spiders with six interceptions as a senior captain in 1982. In addition to earning all-state honors, he was chosen the team's MVP and received the Spiders' Coaches Award. In 1982, the Virginia Peninsula Sports Club selected him as the male in-state Athlete of the Year.

London graduated from Richmond in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in sociology and a year later received a degree in law enforcement from the Richmond Police Academy, serving as a detective for the street crimes unit from November of 1984 to July of 1989. The Dallas Cowboys signed him as a free agent in 1983.

London broke into the collegiate coaching ranks in 1989, spending two seasons with Richmond as the outside linebackers coach and admissions liaison, followed by four seasons (1991-94) as the defensive line coach at William & Mary.
He returned to Richmond for two more years (1995-96) as the outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, coaching All-America LB Shawn Barber, who was a fourth-round draft pick by the Washington Redskins in 1998 and played 10 years in the NFL. London served as defensive line coach at Boston College for the 1997-2000 seasons, where he helped lead the Eagles to two bowl appearances.
London and his wife Regina have seven children, Michael, Jr., Brandon, Kristen, Ticynn, Korben, Jaicyn and Madicyn. The 49-year-old London was born in West Point, N.Y. in 1960.

His son, Brandon, led Massachusetts in receiving in 2006 and finished his career as the school's second leading receiver. He was signed to the Miami Dolphins active roster in 2008 after spending the 2007 season on the Super Bowl Champion N.Y. Giants practice squad. One of London's daughters, Kristen, played on the UVa women's basketball team during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. His younger brother, Paul, was a defensive back at UVa from 1991-95.

The parties have agreed to a contract that will pay London $1.7 million annually for five years.

London's financial agreement is the responsibility of the Department of Athletics. The department is a stand-alone auxiliary that relies on a number of different revenue streams, including ticket and merchandise sales, student fees, ACC television revenues, and philanthropic gifts to support its day-to-day operations. The department does not receive any state funding.

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