Virginia wasted little time replacing departed football assistant Jeff Banks, and it didn’t stray far to find his successor.
The school announced Saturday evening that Larry Lewis has been hired to be the program’s new special teams coordinator and running backs coach, the same roles Banks was expected to fill. Lewis, who has 32 years of college coaching experience and spent eight years (1999-2006) as the head coach at Idaho State, was most recently the special teams coordinator and running backs coach at Nevada last season.
Lewis, 55, also coached Banks, who officially left Virginia Thursday after just nine days on the job and is expected to become the associate head coach at Texas A&M, when Banks was a punter for the Cougars. Lewis is considered one of the first college coaches to hold the title of special teams coordinator during his days working under former Washington State Coach Mike Price (1989-1998).
“Larry Lewis has been coaching special teams for as long as anyone in college football and we’re really fortunate to have him join our staff,” London said in a school-issued statement. “On the offensive side of the ball, he has worked for some very successful and innovative coaches out west and coached two of the nation’s top two tailbacks over the past two seasons.
“Larry is high energy and our players are going to enjoy his style. It is ironic that Jeff Banks played for Larry at Washington State. I guess you could say we’ve gone from the pupil to the teacher.”
Lewis, who has agreed to a two-year contract worth $220,000 annually, will be charged with fixing a Virginia special teams unit that finished last in the ACC in punt returns and kickoff coverage. He should also help a rushing attack that didn’t consistently live up to expectations this year.
Last season at Nevada, Lewis coached junior all-American running back Stefphon Johnson, who set school and Mountain West Conference records by rushing for 1,883 yards and 24 touchdowns. During four seasons at Colorado State (2008-2011), Lewis’s units ranked in the top 25 nationally in punting and kick returns.
Lewis, who worked with Virginia executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver when the two were at Washington State together, compiled a 40-49 overall record and won a share of the 2002 Big Sky title during seven seasons as head coach at Idaho State.
In addition to special teams and running backs, Lewis has coached outside linebacker, safeties and defensive ends over the course of his career. He also has experience as a recruiting coordinator at Weber State.
Virginia is expected to formally introduce London’s overhauled staff, which also includes new associate head coach for offense Tom O’Brien and new defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, news conference on Friday.