​After Mike London, what’s next for Virginia football?

Our team needs innovation, not just financial resources

Head football coach Mike London resigned Sunday following Virginia’s 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech. His team went 15-33 over the past four seasons. Overall, London’s six season tenure was disappointing despite the fact that in 2011 he took the Cavaliers to the Chick-fil-A bowl and won ACC coach of the year. Now, Virginia fans are left to wonder: What’s next for our team?

Unless we see a new, strong vision for our team, we shouldn’t expect too much to change.

Our team has not suffered for lack of resources; the University offers it plenty of funding. London’s payment for the 2014-15 contract year totaled nearly $3.2 million, including his base salary, supplemental pay and a longevity payment; now, his buyout is costing the school $2.7 million. London was the third highest paid coach in the ACC. Virginia is clearly committed to its football program. The lack of results suggests that funding is not the issue.

Instead, our team suffers from a lack of identity on the field — an identity that comes from strong leadership. While London cultivated relationships with players and supported them both personally and academically, he didn’t provide this kind of on-field vision for the team, especially as it pertains to offensive play.

The timing of the hiring process is difficult, however, and our school is not in a position to hire the Tony Bennett of football, though Athletic Director Craig Littlepage and Associate Athletic Director Jon Oliver are rightfully looking for a more experienced candidate. As Sports writer Robert Elder elucidates, the options are limited.

Since finding an innovative and experienced coach may not be easy, the school should look for other ways to support the team in addition to gaining a new hire. Attendance numbers at football games have been declining (not just at U.Va., but across the nation), and football-related traditions have changed little over time. The McCue Center is due for upgrades, though the timeline is still shaky. These are resources the University can offer its players beyond the bounds of what an individual coach provides.

Littlepage’s motto of “uncompromised excellence” has yet to come to fruition when it comes to our football team. Hiring a coach who can provide players with a sense of on-field identity can help achieve that motto — but the University can and should explore other ways to achieve it, too. Otherwise, London’s resignation won’t make much of a difference.

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