Richmond’s national championship coach returning to face Spiders

(STATS) – The announcement of the visiting head coach before a game doesn’t always draw loud applause, but it will on Saturday when eighth-ranked Richmond hosts Howard.

Howard first-year coach Mike London led Richmond to the 2008 FCS national championship in the first of his two seasons guiding the Spiders. The 56-year-old also is a Richmond graduate and had two different stints as a Spiders assistant coach before returning to his alma mater.

Richmond is playing its home opener at Robins Stadium under new head coach Russ Huesman, who was London’s defensive coordinator in 2008 before he left to become Chattanooga’s head coach.

“Just knowing the area, just knowing there’s a rich tradition there in terms of success on the field and in the classroom, and having been a part of that it makes you proud,” London said. “But also humbled in a way that I’m at a place like Howard University that has similar academics aspects and wanting to be good from a football, athletic standpoint. It will be one of those things that, obviously, what matters is the focus on the game. It’s not about me coming back, it’s about preparing a football team to play another good football team, an FCS opponent that over the years has been one of the top programs.”

The Spiders from CAA Football have won 11 straight home openers, including all seven at Robins Stadium by an average margin of 28.4 points, but Saturday’s matchup may be more competitive than it appeared when the game was scheduled.

Howard has only one winning season in the last 15 years, but the MEAC program has opened the London era impressively against two FBS opponents, beating UNLV 43-40 before falling to Kent State 38-31.

Richmond also is 1-1, falling at Sam Houston State 48-34 before edging Colgate 20-17.