Andrew S. Ryan: UVA football gets London-ed

mike londonI believe that the Southern Miss/Larry Fedora loss was a definite London-ing, with special teams blunders at the very least.  One big play was allowing SM to run for a first down on fourth and long from deep in their own territory (punter in end zone).  UVa did not have even one single player “stay at home” to eyeball the punter and ensure that the punter actually punted the ball; all UVa players peeled off and turned downfield — incredibly basic, inept punt return play.  What makes that unforgivable gaffe (that play alone cost us the game) even more absurd was that the onside kick game-loser last Saturday, again against Fedora, showed the same problem, I think.  I believe that there were other snafus in the SM loss, but I’m not going to take the time to research that…

Analysis of London’s lack of intellect/poor coaching MUST emphasize the following issues:

* QB merry-go-round — What was specifically and particularly pathetic was his mangling of Mike Rocco’s role.  After winning the battle of musical chairs against Watford (having been patient and non-complaining during that competition), Rocco became the first QB ever to lead his team to road wins in the same year at Miami and at FSU.  You might remember that, in the bowl game against Auburn, UVa got the ball first, and Rocco led the team down the field smoothly for a touchdown.  That UVa eventually got beaten was partly a function of missing its best two defensive players, including its middle linebacker.  Rocco’s play was not a problem.  So, as that season ended and the next approached, UVa had a solid successful QB WHO HAD TWO MORE YEARS TO GET BETTER…AND we had a young OC who was very highly regarded and was a QB-developer (with NFL experience) ——– and then London let the flaccid cigarette smoker phillip sims be handed equal billing as QB candidate for the next season, having learned nothing from  the QB carousel of the previous season.  And back and forth the QBs went, Rocco still behaving as a very mature and admirable representative of his university.  But at the end of the year, with no clear path forward, he had had enough, and left the school.  I don’t blame him.  HE wasn’t the problem; the non-brilliant (but big-smiling) London was. And that hot marketable young OC?  He left, too.  Reading between the lines, it was clear that he wanted to name one QB and to be allowed to develop that QB — for the previous two years — but that was not what his boss, London, would agree to.  So we went from having a Peach Bowl team with a solid developing young QB and a hot young OC…to a mess, offensively.  London-ed.

* Special teams — in London’s first year, special teams were ABYSMAL.  Look it up: problems in every area.  Never could a reliable punt catcher/returner/philosophy be established, e.g. — all kinds of problems.  The ST coach was a beloved UVa alum (and, apparently, therefore Teflon).  It was obvious that that area, ST, had cost us severely — yet London made no change for the next year.  And those very costly problems continued for the next year, costing us dearly.  Finally Coach Poindexter was moved from that job (for which he was never qualified in the first place).

* Coaching-Mentor-at-Large ????  Are you kidding me?  I’ve been a global business executive…Could someone please justify the hiring of Tom O’Brien, and justify the total vagueness/unclarity of his role?  I am not anti-O’Brien at all…but…A highly-paid person with no clear job function, kind of glomped onto a flailing Head Coach?  Wasn’t and isn’t that a hyper-clear admission of failure?  How can ultra-successful college football programs survive and prosper with a Head Coach, an OC, a DC, and other coaches with specific duties — but no Coaching-Mentor-at-Large, like UVa has? That was and is a clear testimony to London’s incompetence.  I’m not saying that it was London’s decision to seek such a goofy (and costly) arrangement (it was probably some combination of Oliver [please fire him] and Littlepage [he’s about ready for a graceful and honorable retirement, right?]), but, again, that move was a loud admission that the Head Coach could not run the program successfully.

London might be passionate, might be charismatic, might be well-meaning, but he just doesn’t convey confidence of having superior football intellect for a guy making millions.

Social commentator Andrew S. Ryan Jr., Ph.D. has a long list of credentials both in philosophy & psychology.

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