Chris Graham: Littlepage votes ‘confidence’ for Mike London

Mike-LondonMake no bones about it. Mike London is not on any hot seat at UVa., despite his team’s 2-3 start.

“Mike London is our head coach, and he has my full support in our efforts to build this football program,” University of Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage told The Daily Progress.

Take the vote of confidence for what these kinds of things are. The fact that the media is asking the question, and that Littlepage feels the need to answer, says a lot about where UVa. football is right now.

London is 18-24 in three-plus seasons since taking over for Al Groh, who was dumped in 2009 after posting losing campaigns in three of his final four years at the helm.

Virginia appears headed to a similar stretch under London, and the 2013 campaign could well be a disaster in the making on the heels of a 48-27 blowout loss at home to Ball State of the MAC on Saturday. The ‘Hoos are 103rd in the nation in total offense, 101st in scoring offense and 70th in scoring defense – numbers that would surely be worse if not for the 49-0 shellacking that UVa. delivered to overmatched I-AA opponent VMI in Week 3.

Virginia is likely to be favored in just one of its remaining seven games, at home against Duke on Oct. 19, and even that isn’t a given, with the Blue Devils having taken four of the last five in the series.

“This is sometimes a longer and more difficult process than we want and will have ups and downs, but I know Mike is the right guy,” Littlepage said, but then he kind of has to say those kinds of things about the London hire, which was made after Groh was dismissed without the school interviewing any other candidates.

London was deemed the “right guy” after winning a national championship at I-AA Richmond and running up a 24-5 record in his two seasons at his alma mater. London had been on the staff at UVa. under Groh before moving on to UR.

His one successful season at Virginia came in year two, an 8-5 campaign that included wins over Georgia Tech and on the road at Florida State, the first win for a UVa. team at FSU in school history.

The program regressed in 2012 to a 4-8 record, and the pressure was on from the get-go heading into 2013, with a favorable schedule that includes eight home games.

It’s hard to imagine London surviving even another 4-8 season, which would be his third in four seasons – and 4-8 seems a stretch now, with the schedule including games at Maryland and #13 Miami and home games against #3 Clemson and #24 Virginia Tech.

“Uncertainty can be a distraction and erodes confidence,” Littlepage said. “I don’t want for there to be uncertainty about our coach.”

Uh, huh. Sure.

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by June 10, 2019, and will retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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