UVA Football: Firing Mike London Makes Sense, Not Cents

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IOctober 20, 2013

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 7: Virginia Cavaliers head coach Mike London looks on during the game against the Oregon Ducks at Scott Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Oregon won 59-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The problem with sports is that we are often blinded by our position as fans.

Any fan of the University of Virginia Cavaliers knows that something is rotten in Charlottesville.

The boys in orange and blue are on their way to another losing season, potentially a 2-10 campaign after they blew a 22-0 lead to Duke, being outscored 35-0 in the second half.

Since 2007, Virginia has had one winning season.

They have not won a bowl game since 2005.

Current coach Mike London is 8-19 against the ACC, including 1-3 against both Duke, North Carolina and Maryland.

With the exception of the 2011 season where Virginia went 8-4 in the regular season and defeated both Florida State and Miami on the road en route to London winning ACC coach of the year, the Cavaliers are 6-21 against FBS competition.

Virginia has talent, but it also has a coach that seems completely in over his head.

When drive-killing penalties prevented him from converting a field goal to tie the game against the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter, London's reaction was to yell at the refs.

When Virginia got to the 28-yard line against Maryland with a minute to go, down by three, London showed he had more faith in a back-up kicker and the punter to make a long field goal than he did in his quarterback's ability to make plays.

When Virginia Tech drove to beat the Cavaliers for the ninth straight year, London's response was to sit on his timeouts only to ice the kicker with no time remaining instead of saving a few precious seconds for a kick return.

Fans are clamoring for their pitchforks and torches and not for the stadium. With a crowd of well under 40,000 people in an ACC contest, the writing on the wall should be perfectly clear.

For one rather important person, that writing appears to say: ONE MORE YEAR.

Athletic Director Craig Littlepage reached out and let it be known earlier this week that coach Mike London was not going anywhere.

Littlepage points to London's passion and recruiting prowess as to why he should be given patience.

No one can deny that London loves football and his team. However, being head cheerleader should not be worth a multi-million dollar paycheck. London is being exposed for what he is: a long-time coordinator who spent a few seasons with an FCS team in Richmond before being called up to lead a BCS program.

London has been able to pull off some impressive victories in his three and a half years, but he has also been badly out-coached, outplayed and left out to dry countless other times.

If you ignore the FCS games Virginia has played under London, Virginia's average margin of victory is just over eight points per game. Their average margin of defeat is over 16 points per game.

That margin is not getting better, it's getting worse.

In 2012, Virginia had four losses of 20 points or more. The Cavaliers had only four such losses in the first two seasons under London.

This year, Virginia has already lost by a combined 95 points, which is more than the 88 points they had lost by in all of the 2011 season's losses.

Coaches are figuring out Mike London and adjusting. He is unable to counter.

As for the second claim, you bet coach London can recruit. That is where everyone's anger is coming from. It would be one thing if an untalented team was stinking up the place, but these players are three and four star recruits looking like high school players.

The number of dropped passes, penalties and turnovers make it seem like this expensive Cadillac is driving straight toward a tree.

What's the use bringing in talented players if they can't win.

Just ask Phillip Sims, a former No. 1-ranked recruit who blew up the program in 2012 before becoming academically ineligible and leaving the program high and dry at the quarterback position.

Being a great spokesman for Virginia is great, but fans need more than that.

Littlepage does not.

To understand his comments, one need only look at what he cares about—money.

To fire London would cost over 8 million dollars, and the rest of his staff would be another couple of million.

For a university that fired their President in a controversial manner over dealing with how to increase revenue, it makes sense that such a lucrative buyout could make waves in academia.

Virginia's motto for athletics is "uncompromised excellence." Littlepage created it. What it really should read is "uncompromised surplus".

Littlepage does not care about the result; he cares about the bottom line.

Scheduling Oregon was not to see how this young team would handle the challenge of a top ranked team, it was a money grab and a successful one.

Did Virginia learn anything losing 59-10 in a game where Oregon reminded fans just how far they have fallen in relevance?

The Virginia Tech game will be a sell out too, full of Hokies in an abysmal, embarrassing sight for the program—just like it was in 2009.

Why care about blue or maroon-clad fans when the color that matters most is green?

Virginia wants your money and your loyalty and will offer you an enticing mediocre program and the promise of hope.

If this university took its mantra seriously, Littlepage would not have to give London a proverbially pat on the back. London would already be gone. 

London is a great person who is not ready for this position and should be put out of his misery before it is too late to salvage this sinking ship.

Clemson coach Frank Howard once famously referred to Virginia as "white meat". Considering that Duke is now 5-1 over Virginia in the past six seasons, we cannot deny who the cellar dweller is in the ACC.

That does not merit patience.

Even if it did, what hope does this team have under London?

We know that boos will not be enough to change Virginia's pathetic culture of apathy. A full out boycott will be the only tool left in the arsenal.


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