December 7, 2009 — 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, U.Va. Athletics Director Craig Littlepage announced today.
London returns to lead a Cavalier program he twice previously served as an assistant coach. He becomes the 39th coach in the program's 121-year 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. In 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 Association during the 2008 and 2009 campaigns.
"We are pleased to welcome Mike London back to the University," University President John T. Casteen III said in a statement. "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."
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, television revenues and philanthropic gifts to support its day-to-day operations. The department receives no state funding.
"Words cannot express my gratitude and heartfelt emotions for this opportunity," London said. "To be the head football coach at as prestigious 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."
At a press conference held today at the John Paul Jones Arena, London embraced the University's strong academic reputation.
"If you just want to play football and, 'OK, I think I might get an education,' this is probably not the place for you," he said. "If you just want to get a great education and I think, 'I'll play a little football,' This is probably not the place for you.
"But if you want the best-of-both-world opportunities, this is the place for you. You'll have a head coach who is going to foster an environment that's conducive to you achieving academically and make sure that you get the type of coaching and have a relationship that's going to be able to at least help you achieve athletically also."
London's efforts at Richmond 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 named State Coach of the Year by both the Virginia Sports Information Directors and the Peninsula Sports Club.
On London's watch, 16 Spiders were named to the All-CAA Football Team in 2009 and 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.
Before returning to coach at his alma mater, London spent six of seven seasons coaching for Al Groh at Virginia. In 2001, London joined the U.Va. staff for the first time as the defensive line coach and became recruiting coordinator in 2002. In 2005, London left U.Va. to work as the defensive line coach for the NFL's Houston Texans. 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 Hampton native, 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 most valuable player 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 the College of William & Mary.
He returned to Richmond for two more years (1995-96) as the outside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, coaching All-America linebacker 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.
Kristen London played on the U.Va. women's basketball team during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. His younger brother, Paul, was a defensive back at U.Va. from 1991-95.