In just his second year at the helm, Virginia Head Coach Mike London has been selected as the 2011 ACC Coach of the Year, the league announced today. When London took over in 2010, the team had just come off an embarrassing 3-win season. Now, the Cavaliers have a chance at a 9-win season after finishing the regular season 8-4 and second in the Coastal division.
The Cavaliers have had a turnaround season as compared to 2010. Last year, the Hoos gave up an average of 203.67 rushing yards per game, ranked 106th in the country, out of 120 teams. This year, Virginia allows just 128.33 yards per game, ranked 35th in the country. London also took a team that was dead last in the country in 2010 in penalties (8.8 penalties per game against FBS opponents) and instilled discipline in the players in 2011, as the Hoos are 41st in the country with just 5.3 penalties per game against FBS opponents.
Coach London took a team that was picked to finish almost dead last in the ACC and instead put them squarely in contention for a shot at the ACC Championship. London turned a fan base that started out this season with an article on this very site asking if this would be a "Bowl or Bust" season into a fan base that wanted -- even expected -- to be in Charlotte next weekend for the ACC Championship Game.
In his first year at Virginia, London collected a consensus Top-25 recruiting class, and is looking for a repeat performance. The most recent rankings published at Sports Illustrated had the Hoos' 2012 recruiting class ranked No. 14th in the nation, while the most recent ESPN rankings had the class at No. 22, in both cases, ahead of rivals Virginia Tech.
The team was predicted in the preseason to possibly lose a fourth straight to Duke. Since then, the Cavaliers took down then-undefeated No. 12 Georgia Tech. Then they handed Miami its first ever Thursday night home loss. The Hoos followed up that performance by upsetting Florida State in Tallahassee for the first time ever in Virginia history. In fact, under Coach London, Virginia became the first school ever to beat both FSU and Miami on the road in the same season. The Cavaliers were ranked as high as No. 24 this season.
Many considered Virginia to be lacking in talent as compared to the rest of the ACC, aside from senior cornerback Chase Minnifield. Yet, as announced earlier this week, Virginia placed three players to the first team All-ACC squad, tied for second in the conference and only behind Clemson's five. Virginia had eight players in total receive All-ACC honors. It's the most first-team honors Virginia's had since 2005, and the most first- and second-team honorees, as well as the most total honorees, since 2004.
In summary, Mike London has done nothing short of turning this program around in two short years. He's raising expectations. He's attracting recruits. He's getting the attention of the media. He's getting wins on the field and off.
He's building a program.
ACC Coach of the Year Voting Results: