London, Cavaliers Ready to Face Penn State

Mike London can laugh about it now.

Last November, when Penn State was looking for a new head coach to replace the fired Joe Paterno, London's name turned up on the rumor mill as a possible candidate. And ESPN analyst Desmond Howard fueled the fire by floating London's name on air.

"That always happens. There's always people throwing your name out there," London said Tuesday, four days before his Virginia football team hosts Penn State. "Then it grows legs -- and all of a sudden, it's a centipede. And you've got all kind of people talking about it."

"Flattering? Perhaps, being mentioned," London added. "But at the same time, my focus is here, and this is where I want to be."

London's Cavaliers will take a 1-0 record into Saturday's nationally televised game, after rolling to a 43-19 over Richmond in last weekend's season opener.

The Penn State job eventually went to Bill O'Brien. After a summer of NCAA sanctions brought on by the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal -- and the exodus of nine players and several more recruits as a result of those sanctions -- the O'Brien era opened with a 24-14 loss at home to Ohio last Saturday.

The NCAA sanctions against the Penn State program include a four-year postseason ban, the loss of 20 scholarships per season over those four years, and permission for players to transfer to other programs without any restrictions.

"It's pretty honorable, what they've done," junior defensive end Jake Snyder said, referring to the players who chose not to transfer. "I think with those sanctions, the NCAA made it pretty obvious that they can get out and they can go to a school and go play with no hesitation, no problem. And those guys stuck by the school and the program that they love, and that's something that's pretty awesome I think."

"I would imagine that as he talks to the team," London said of O'Brien, "the only non-distraction is actually probably the game itself. The practices itself. The moments that all you're thinking about is football, and playing."

O'Brien, the former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, took over the Penn State program in January. His team had a 14-3 halftime lead in his debut on Saturday, but was held scoreless in the second half as the Bobcats rallied for the 10-point win.

"I think they're going to come in a real emotional team, with a vengeance," Virginia senior offensive lineman Oday Aboushi said. "They're a great program, they have a great tradition, and they're known for a lot of great players. So we expect a good match-up come Saturday."

"We all understand it's a 12 o'clock, ABC game; national TV," London said. "There are opportunities, and we've been on national TV before, so we're excited about the challenge that brings this Saturday."

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