Two years worth of hot-seat talk will subside in Charlottesville, Va., as Virginia announced on Wednesday that head coach Mike London will return for the 2015 season regardless of Saturday’s result against Virginia Tech.
Despite the Cavaliers 5-6 record and 23-27 record overall in London’s tenure, the program’s progress, player development and highly rated recruiting classes played into the decision, according to a statement from the Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage:
"I trust the plan Mike has in place and believe his leadership provides the best opportunity for Virginia football to be successful in the future," the statement read. "It was important to see improvement in our football program this season. I’ve seen signs of progress in many areas. Through the staff changes made over the last two years, we are better at teaching the game and in the overall development of the student-athletes.
" … We are seeing many of these student-athletes on the field right now and the staff continues to have success on the recruiting trail. We will continue to support the program in their efforts to maximize their recruiting success."
The sub-.500 record notwithstanding, this has been the best season for Virginia since London was named ACC Coach of the Year following the 2011 season. The Cavaliers pushed ranked opponents UCLA and BYU down to the wire, hung around with ACC powerhouse Florida State and beat No. 21 Louisville at home for its best win in years. With wins over Richmond, Kent State, Pittsburgh and Miami, there’s not a truly egregious loss on the schedule.
Recruiting success does play a role in this. London’s staff landed an excellent 2014 class, highlighted by five-star safety Quin Blanding and top-rated defensive tackle Andrew Brown, with another solid 2015 group on the way. It’s that potential for future success that helped keep London in place for his sixth season.
Now London can seek to earn bowl eligibility and end the program’s 10-year losing streak at the hands of Virginia Tech with some added job security.