CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia football coach Mike London fired four assistant coaches and reassigned another as part of sweeping changes to his coaching staff after the Cavaliers finished a disappointing 4-8 this season.
Defensive coordinator and associate head coach Jim Reid, defensive line coach Jeff Hanson, running backs coach Mike Faragalli and tight ends coach Shawn Moore have been dismissed, London announced Sunday.
Anthony Poindexter also has been relieved of his duties as special teams coach but will remain on staff, London said in a statement released by the school. Poindexter also coaches Virginia’s safeties.
The four coaches fired have been with London throughout his three seasons at Virginia. Also Sunday, the school announced junior quarterback Michael Rocco will transfer.
In a statement, London hinted that the coaching changes might not all have been his idea.
“After conducting a complete evaluation of the program and discussing my thoughts with administration, there are a number of areas we need to improve on and it starts with me as the head coach,” he said.
“The decision to release these four coaches is very difficult, but one I feel is necessary in order to meet the goals we have set for the Virginia football program,” he continued. “I have coached with some of these men for many years, won a national championship with some, and I truly appreciate their dedication and commitment, and more importantly, their friendships. I wish them all the best.”
Reid, who had London as an assistant at Richmond in 1995 and 1996, is the most surprising departure.
The Cavaliers’ defense was their most consistent unit this season, especially as the season wore on and younger players forced into prominent roles gained experience. Virginia finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total defense, allowing 353 yards per game, but struggled to make dynamic, game-changing plays. Reid’s until had just 17 sacks and forced just 12 turnovers this season.
Over its last six games, Virginia opponents averaged just 306 yards on offense, a figure that would have placed the Cavaliers in the top 10 nationally if accomplished over the course of the season.
Reid was on the road recruiting this week, along with most of Virginia’s staff. He did not immediately respond to phone and text messages left on his cellphone following the morning announcement.
Hanson, who also served as recruiting coordinator, and Faragalli both coached with London at Richmond, winning the FCS national championship in 2008, and came with him when London replaced Al Groh in 2009.
Moore, a former Cavaliers quarterback, had never been a college assistant before joining London’s staff. His son, Michael Moore, was a promising freshman defense lineman on the team this season.
Poindexter, one of the most popular Cavaliers players, was the only holdover from Groh’s staff, and has been the one under the most scrutiny because of Virginia’s anemic special teams.
The Cavaliers allowed two kickoffs to be returned for touchdowns this season and routinely started offensive series inside their own 25 yard-line when their own kickoff returners were ineffective.
In Virginia’s 17-14 loss to Virginia Tech in the season finale, the Cavaliers had an opportunity to kick a 38-yard field goal and go ahead 17-7 against a rival they had lost to eight consecutive times.
Instead, they faked the kick on fourth-and-8 and were stopped two yards shy of a first down.
The failure was viewed as a huge momentum swing in a game the Cavaliers lost, 17-14.
London said his search for replacement coaches to rebuild his staff will begin immediately.