New Coaches Bring Experience to UVa Staff

Both Tom O'Brien and Jon Tenuta talked on Friday about how much Charlottesville had changed since the last time they had called the city home.

O'Brien spent 15 years working on George Welsh's staff at Virginia before leaving to become head coach at Boston College in 1996. Tenuta is a Virginia alum who then worked as a graduate assistant with the program in 1981 and 1982.

O'Brien and Tenuta were among the newly hired Virginia assistants who met with the media for the first time on Friday. O'Brien, who was fired as head coach at NC State in November, is the Cavaliers' new associate head coach for offense, and will also coach tight ends. Tenuta, who had spent the past three seasons as O'Brien's linebackers coach with the Wolfpack, is Virginia's new associate head coach for defense, and defensive coordinator.

Both men were hired this month, along with new special teams coordinator and running backs coach Larry Lewis, and wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, who was promoted from a graduate assistant position.

“This is about getting men here that can help us win," head coach Mike London said during a brief news conference discussing the new hires.

O'Brien won 115 games in his 16 seasons as a head coach, including an 8-2 record in bowl games. He went 40-35 at NC State, including a 7-5 record this past season.

O'Brien called his decision to return to Virginia "too good an opportunity to pass up."

"I wasn't done," he said. "I feel I still have a lot to offer, and given the opportunity Mike presented, it was certainly a great opportunity, and I look forward to helping this football team out."

“Tom is there as a resource," London said. "A guy that’s coached in the ACC and knows coaches, knows schemes, knows players, knows climates, knows cultures of programs that he’s coached against over the last few years here at NC State and Boston College."

And O'Brien said he didn't anticipate any issues with current Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

"I don't want his job. I don't intend to do his job," O'Brien said. "He has a job to do, and I'm here to help him in any way, shape, or form that he needs. After 38 years I've learned a few things about this game of football, and have a little bit of knowledge that maybe I can impart."

Tenuta will be entering his 34th season as a college coach. After leaving Charlottesville, he's had stints as defensive coordinator at more than a half dozen schools, including Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.

"My philosophy defensively is we're going to play fast, play physical, play smart. Always has been," Tenuta explained. "You've got to keep it simple, stupid. And the stupid part is for the coach, not the players."

"It is important to get sacks. It's important to get turnovers. It's important to limit teams to scoring points," London said. "And I think those are the things that Jon has done great job in his career. And our guys, our players are looking forward to being involved in that."

"You've got to know your players, and you can't fit square pegs in round holes," Tenuta said. "So the transitional aspect over the next few weeks, before we get to spring ball and in spring ball, is you've got to learn your players."

O'Brien was asked Friday what his goals were as he returned to an assistant coaching position.

"The same as always -- to get to Charlotte," he said. "That's the goal, to win the ACC Championship. So whatever I can do or however I can help out, that's what I'm here to do."

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