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VIRGINIA WEEK: First-Look Preview-- Good Coaching

This man ought to be on every program's short list when looking for a home-run coaching hire.
This man ought to be on every program's short list when looking for a home-run coaching hire.

It's VIRGINIA WEEK at Frogs o' War-- where you can get all you need to know about TCU's opponents, one week at a time. The Frogs' third foe is the Virginia Cavaliers, who sport one of the most up-and-coming young head coaches in the sport, Mike London. London did no less than turn the Cavaliers into a dangerous team almost overnight.

London's not alone, of course. Jim Reid, London's old boss at Richmond, is his associate head coach and defensive coordinator, and Bill Lazor, an NFL veteran runs UVa's pro-style offensive.

But the story is about London. Mike London is Virginia incarnate, lacking only the "native" moniker. He was born at into a military family; went to high school at one of the suburbs of Virginia Beach (home of the Atlantic Fleet), played defensive back at Richmond well enough to be drafted, but soon went into law enforcement, working as a street crime detective in Richmond for 5 years in the '80s. London came back to football as a coach, usually for the defensive line, working at Richmond in two different stints, William & Mary, Boston College, and then to Virginia for the first time, as defensive line coach, and also recruiting coordinator later. London went to the NFL for a year before returning to Virginia as Al Groh's defensive coordinator (and defensive line coach).

After returning to Richmond as head coach, during which the Spiders went 24-5 and collected a 2A national championship, Virginia offered its the top job to London. The Hoos hadn't made this good of a coaching hire in decades. London took his family (including seven children) to Charlottesville and has turned that ship around. Naturally, the defense is where he focuses, and the results are dramatic. The team London took over was 95th in the country is rushing defense and 52nd in total defense; last season it was 48th against the rush, 40th in total defense.

London's hand is readily visible in recruiting: the Hoos were used to bringing in unheralded classes ranked near the bottom of BCS programs. Enter Mike London: ranked UVa's 2011 class 24th, and last year's haul 28th. London will field a team this season that is largely made of his own players, for the first time. London's highest profile recruit may be ineligible in '12-- the NCAA is still mulling UVA's application to allow Alabama transfer QB Phillip Sims to play immediately.

To summarize: these ain't the same Cavs that rolled over for Andy Dalton and the lads in 2009. These are a dramatically more talented, better-coached outfit that will command TCU's respect, or the scoreboard.