After a 2-10 finish in 2013 that included a winless record in ACC play, the pressure is mounting on Virginia coach Mike London to turn things around, but athletic director Craig Littlepage gave London a vote of confidence on Monday in an interview with ESPN.com.
“I think he will get things back on track, yes,” Littlepage said. “He’s recruited well, A, and B, I think he’s assembled a phenomenal staff, and C, I think that he has the right values and understand the University of Virginia and what it takes to be successful here as well as anybody. Those three things would lead me to believe he’s going to get things back on track.”
It can only get better from here … right?
London is 18-31 overall in his four seasons at Virginia, has won 36.7 percent of his games and had only one winning season. He is 5-16 against his Coastal Division opponents, having never beaten rival Virginia Tech or North Carolina. The only Coastal Division opponent London has a winning record against is Miami (3-1). The highlight season was an 8-5 record in 2011 when he was named ACC Coach of the Year, tied Georgia Tech for second place in the Coastal Division and earned a trip to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the program’s first bowl appearance since 2007.
That season, Virginia overachieved. Last season? The Hoos underachieved.
London exceeded all expectations on the recruiting trail, though, and lured in a Top 25 class that included five players from the ESPN 300, two five-star players and four five-star recruits. He signed the No. 1 defensive tackle, Andrew Brown, and the No. 1-ranked safety, Quin Blanding, who both are in-state prospects.
Virginia’s problems have hardly been limited to London’s tenure, as the program has only seen two winning seasons in the past eight years (2011 and 2007). London has been instrumental in changing the culture off the field, raising expectations in the classroom, boosting recruiting and adding an indoor practice field.
All of those benefits, though, have yet to translate into wins. Still, Littlepage said he wouldn’t put London -- or any of his staff members -- on the proverbial hot seat.
“I think coaches all see themselves on the hot seat,” Littlepage said. “The nature of our business is we are all driven, [and] in many cases [they are] type A people who strive for success and hold ourselves to a very high standard. I wouldn’t categorize any one coach or any one athletic director or any specific staff member to be on the hot seat because we all push ourselves toward the optimum in terms of performance.”