"We really got back to the basics on both of these searches, to figure out, OK, who are the right people for this institution now, and what will it take for them to come and build the program, put their mark on it and have a long-lasting impression?" Oliver said. "I think in both of these searches, that's where we arrived."
As comfortable a fit as London may be, staff will be critical. He is a skilled delegator, and assistants will be invaluable strategists and recruiters.
Toward that end, Oliver said that Virginia has budgeted $2 million in 2010 salary for London's nine assistants, a 29-percent bump from this season's $1.55 million. According to a USA Today survey, Virginia this season ranked last among the ACC's eight public schools in staff compensation.
Given that increase, expect some high-profile hires in the coming weeks.
Absent Bowl Subdivision head-coaching experience, London is not high-profile enough to suit some fans. Those doubters also question whether the one week that transpired between Groh's firing and London's hiring was enough time to identify the best candidate.
But that's a red herring. Littlepage and Oliver knew for months that Groh was finished, and during that time they conducted background checks and inquired through intermediaries of potential interest.
"I don't think there are many people who thought we wouldn't be making a change," Oliver said. "We knew in the early fall that if things didn't work out we might be in this situation, so you can imagine when I started the process of research.
"That's not meant to be disrespectful to anybody else, but part of athletics administration is being prepared at all times and having a short list of people you would target if you have an opening. I don't think we're unique in that regard."
But Oliver and Littlepage say they hired a unique coach.
"Yes, one coach, just one, stood out among many excellent coaches as the search was in progress," Littlepage said. "This coach stood out as a leader, teacher and coach. He stood out with his insight and respect for this great institution. He stood out as a winner and as one around whom we can and must all rally."
Quite the endorsement. Time for Mike London to prove himself worthy.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime.
Inheriting dregs, time for London to prove he's worthy