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Former BC, N.C. State coach O'Brien headlines Virginia football coaching hires

Jon Tenuta becomes team's defensive coordinator; former QB Hagans added as full-time coach

Just more than a month after firing four assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Jim Reid, and demoting special teams coordinator Anthony Poindexter, Virginia football head coach Mike London replenished his staff with three new assistant coaches and promoted former Virginia quarterback Marqes Hagans to a full-time position. Incoming Cavalier coaches include recently-axed N.C. State head coach Tom O’Brien, who will become the associate head coach for offense and tight ends coach; Jon Tenuta, who will assume defensive coordinator duties; and Jeff Banks, the new defensive coordinator and running backs coach. Virginia also announced that defensive back Chip West will take over as the program’s recruitment coordinator.

Hagans and Tenuta are Virginia graduates, while O’Brien served as an assistant under legendary Cavaliers coach George Welsh from 1982-1996.

“These four coaches are a dynamic group who will be great teachers and instructors for our student-athletes, while maintaining the values we have set for our team,” London said in a statement. “Three of them have strong ties to Virginia and they have first-hand knowledge and experiences of what makes our university a special place.”

O’Brien’s arrival is particularly intriguing, given both his recent prominence in the college football world and London’s decision to retain offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who has almost unilaterally handled Virginia’s offensive play-calling since 2010. As a head coach at Boston College and N.C. State in each of the last 16 seasons after departing Virginia, O’Brien compiled a 115-80 record and guided his teams to 11 bowl appearances. London worked under O’Brien from 1997-2000 as Boston College’s defensive line coach.

Originally promised a $1.2 million buyout from N.C. State provided he refrain from coaching for another ACC school until 2015, O’Brien will instead receive a smaller lump sum of $200,000 in exchange for Wolfpack Athletic Director Debbie Yow’s disavowal of the “non-compete” clause. The Virginia athletics department offered O’Brien a $150,000 signing bonus and annual compensation totaling around $450,000 on a two-year contract.

Tenuta, who played linebacker for the Cavaliers from 1979-1982, accompanies O’Brien from Raleigh after a three year spell as the Wolfpack’s associate head coach for defense. His 32 year coaching career has also included stints as defensive coordinator at prestigious programs such as Oklahoma, Ohio State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame. He received a five-year contract worth $500,000 annually from the Cavaliers.

Coaching under Jeff Price for the last nine years at UTEP, Banks molded the Miners’ special teams unit into one of Conference USA’s finest. He was the punter on the Washington State team that reached the 1997 Rose Bowl.

Hagans has mentored Virginia’s wide receivers in a graduate assistant role since 2011 and will continue to tutor them in an official capacity. After he followed Matt Schaub as Virginia’s starting quarterback and ranking as the program’s No. 7 all-time passer, Hagans enjoyed a five-year NFL career with the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.

London hired West upon arriving at Virginia at 2010. Having played, according to the school’s statement, an instrumental role in compiling the Cavaliers’ last two recruiting classes, West will replace Jeff Hanson as recruiting coordinator and recruiter responsible for attracting talent from the “Tidewater/Peninsula” region—long touted as a goldmine of football talent.

The athletics department confirmed that it will compensate the coaches’ salaries without public funding.