Job status of Mike London appears secure despite 2-10 campaign
The last two UVa. football coaches responsible for 10-loss seasons – Sonny Randle in 1975 and Dick Bestwick in 1981 – were handed pink slips for their trouble. Al Groh got a pink slip from his alma mater in 2009 after going 3-9.
“I just ended a meeting with last year’s team, and I’m looking forward to getting next year’s team prepared,” London said after the 16-6 season-ending loss to in-state rival Virginia Tech on Saturday.
The loss was Virginia’s ninth in a row in 2013, and the 10th in a row in the series with Virginia Tech, which has won 14 of 15 from the ‘Hoos since 1999.
Assuming London does keep his job, you have to assume he’s a dead man walking heading into a 2014 campaign with a schedule that will make 2013’s murderer’s row look like a cakewalk.
Virginia opens with UCLA, then after a breather (?) against FCS Richmond, which features a pair of former UVa. quarterbacks in Michael Strauss and Michael Rocco, it’s on the road at BYU in Week 3.
The schedule later features road games at the two teams that will play in next week’s ACC Championship Game, Florida State and Duke, at Georgia Tech and at Virginia Tech, and home games with ACC newcomer Louisville, plus Miami, North Carolina and Pitt.
Virginia is just as likely to go 2-10 or 1-11 in 2014 as it is to even get to a modest 6-6.
It would have to seem likely that anything short of a .500 season would finally get London canned, though the state of UVa. football is so low at this point that it may be that no one even cares enough anymore to push for a change.
In the meantime, it’s London’s team, and there’s so much to work on to try to improve in 2014, and ostensibly that works begins on Monday.
“We have to address the things that cause us to lose games,” London said in his final presser of 2013. “Players need to understand their position isn’t guaranteed next year. Coaches need to look at systems and schemes. We need to hold our head up and look straight ahead and forward. We need to make those corrections.
“There are so many things to understand, and they start with eliminating those mistakes that cause us to lose. Like converting those turnovers into points. We have to get it right. We have to get it fixed,” London said.
Junior running back Kevin Parks, who passed the 1,000-yard mark in rushing on the season with his 105-yard effort against Virginia Tech, said this year’s poor finish should motivate harder work out of the players this offseason.
“I hope it does. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will,” Parks said.
Redshirt sophomore David Watford, who started all 12 games at quarterback in 2013, but finished the season on the bench in favor of backup Greyson Lambert, a redshirt freshman, echoed those sentiments.
“We want to take this season and remember how bad we all felt,” said Watford, who ended the season among the nation’s lowest-rated quarterbacks in passing effiency. “We do not want this to happen again. We need to get better and go up and beyond what we have been doing. We need to push each other and have each other’s back. We need to remember why we are here.”
Lambert’s take: “All problems can be fixed. We’re going to go back to the drawing board and prepare like we never have before, and prepare so this never happens again.”
Junior tight end Jake McGee, himself, “doesn’t have a lot of answers” for the 2-10 debacle in the here and now.
“We will have to dig deep and look into things to see what we need to do to change it. Two-and-10 is not going to cut it,” McGee said.
The historically bad season for Virginia “hurts,” understated sophomore defensive end Eli Harold.
“I’m not used to losing. Not a lot of guys are. It is just something you have to deal with. It’s life,” Harold said. “You have to be resilient. I will now attack everything like it’s the last day of my life.
“When it’s over, I just thank God for letting me come out of this season healthy and injury-free. I have to try to lead the best I can and get everyone in the same mindset so we can turn this around and reach our goal of an ACC championship.”
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