London shakes up the status quo at Virginia

Every new head coach wants to make his mark in a hurry, and some do so with bolder or louder tactics than others.

Mike London has been on the job less than four months at Virginia, and he's certainly putting his own stamp on the program. He recently took the team to Old Dominion for a weekend, increasing exposure for the program in a fertile recruiting area. The Cavaliers held an open practice and London and his staff conducted a clinic for high school coaches alongside their colleagues from ODU.

The unusual spring road trip has drawn good reviews so far, as Virginia executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver told the Daily Press.

Oliver said that last spring, when athletic department officials were searching for a men's basketball coach, he had a conversation with a local advocate who said that the Cavaliers "lost the crowd down here when your football coaches stopped recruiting in this area."

"That really struck me at the time," Oliver said. "I thought, 'Gosh, we need to make sure that we're reaching out to people in the state, and that they always know that they're important to us,' and this effort was just part of that."

It's inaccurate to say that Virginia's football coaches stopped recruiting the area. The roster is sprinkled with players from Hampton Roads: Ras-I Dowling (Cheseapeake), Jared Detrick (Newport News), Isaac Cain (Hampton), LoVante Battle (Hampton), Will Hill (Williamsburg), among others.

But Virginia no longer lands many of the area's best players, as Virginia Tech has made major recruiting inroads in the past dozen years. London, a Hampton native, has vowed to re-emphasize in-state recruiting and he wants to make the area a priority.

Now comes news of more changes from London, including tweaks to the team uniforms (not yet announced) and makeovers for the locker room and the McCue Center, which houses the team's weight room and sports medicine area.

The most important changes are taking place between the lines, as London wants to speed up the tempo of practice. There was some concern that London's ties to his predecessor, Al Groh, would lead to more of the same, but that hasn't been the case so far.

"I just think, more than anything else, the attitude has changed around here where you know what? There's no where else to go but up," he told The Washington Post.

London obviously needs to get it done in the fall, but he's already showing why so many people labeled him a good fit for Virginia.