UVa shows greater commitment to football

As downtown Charlottesville, Va., was pummeled with about a foot of snow on Wednesday, the newly constructed $13 million George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility sat strong and sturdy as a reminder that the Cavaliers will soon have a place to practice during inclement weather.

Virginia will be able to use the 78,000 square-foot facility when spring practices begin on March 18.

“It’s fantastic,” said coach Mike London, who took a stroll through the building on Tuesday. “One of the guys who was building it said it’s one of the best he’s seen in college football. They really did a nice job with it.”

That’s not all they’re building, though, at Virginia.

Take a look at the three major changes that have taken place recently at UVa:

Staff changes: Four coaches (associate head coach/defensive coordinator Jim Reid, defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Hanson, running backs coach Mike Faragalli and tight ends coach Shawn Moore) were all fired after last year’s 4-8 season. Not only did London hire new assistants, he hired former head coaches in offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild (Colorado State) and former NC State coach Tom O’Brien. Combined with the hire of defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, there is an abundance of experience on the new staff.

Aggressive scheduling: Virginia is opening against BYU this year, and added Oregon to its 2013 schedule. The Cavaliers will play UCLA in 2014 and 2015. They’ll play Stanford in 2017 and 2018. The program also recently announced a two-game series against Boise State in 2015 and 2017. It’s a bold philosophy, but it also shows an “anywhere, anytime” mentality.

Facilities: The indoor practice facility will keep Virginia on pace with other schools in the ACC, as Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Duke have indoor facilities, Clemson unveiled its indoor facility last month, and Florida State’s practice facility is right on target for its Aug. 1 opening date.

All of these things represent a commitment to the football program, and all of them will make the program more visible and more appealing to recruits.

“It’s a step towards saying ‘this is what we want to be, we want to be better than what we were,’ and these are the steps we’re taking: coaching staff, facilities, the scheduling, and it’s attracting some of the best student-athletes that are out there in the country, particularly in our own state,” London said. “I just think there are several things that have happened that have raised eyebrows in terms of looking at the program taking a serious step towards moving forward.”