After Virginia fell 23-20 for its 12th straight loss to in-state rivals Virginia Tech, head coach Mike London addressed the media and spoke about his future at Virginia.
It took a few uncomfortable moments and some awkward silences, but one of the reporters in the room finally asked London about the prospect of him returning as Virginia's head coach.
My thoughts are on this game and on our players right now. It's tough addressing those guys in the locker room right now. I'm thankful and humbled to be the head coach of this team and to have the opportunity to influence young men's lives. During the course of the season, we played a challenging schedule. We played some tough teams and some tough games. We won some close games and lost some close games. But I'm so proud of the character that those guys have shown over the course of the season. It's about them and not me. It's important that they understand that football is a tough game. There are consequences for many things. But I told them, ‘You're going to be husbands, fathers, sons, employees, and employers for much longer than they will be football players. Your identity is not tied to being just a football player. I understand that we are graded by wins and losses, but you're so much more than that.' That's what I told them, so I'll leave it at that.
We want to unpack that quote as we encounter the first few hours of what should be a momentous offseason in Charlottesville.
First things first, those are the words of a man who knows his fate. Listening live, it sounded to me like he said "to have HAD the opportunity to influence young men's lives." You can hear it for yourself below.
That spoke volumes about what London expects to happen. But the other words he used show much the same. "Football is a tough game. There are consequences for many things. ... I understand that we are graded by wins and losses."
He knows. 4-8 isn't good enough, especially not 3 years out of 6 and accompanied by 2-10 and 5-7.
But he also demonstrated exactly why so many of us respect him as a man and a mentor. "You're going to be husbands, fathers, sons, employees, and employers for much longer than [you] will be football players." That's the message that every college coach ought to be imparting to his or her players—especially at a place like Virginia.
London was also asked when he would be meeting with athletics director Craig Littlepage to discuss his future. His response?
Whenever I’m called to meet with him.