Just when it seemed Virginia football’s tumultuous offseason was complete, the Cavaliers suddenly have another vacancy to fill. On Tuesday, Virginia announced that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will take a job in the NFL.
A Virginia official with direct knowledge of the situation said Lazor will join Coach Chip Kelly’s staff with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
“I appreciate Bill Lazor’s time here as a member of my staff,” Cavaliers Coach Mike London said in a school-issued statement. “We are now wrapping up our recruiting and starting our preparation for the 2013 season. We will move quickly to find a new offensive coordinator to keep the program moving forward.”
How London addresses Lazor’s impending move only adds intrigue to a football program that has been in flux since the 2012 season ended.
Virginia already hired former North Carolina State Coach Tom O’Brien to serve as the team’s associate head coach for offense. When asked about working with Lazor this season earlier this month, O’Brien told reporters, “I don’t want his job.” But he spent six years as Virginia’s offensive coordinator under former Coach George Welsh and could step into Lazor’s role.
If Virginia decides to hire an offensive coordinator from outside the program, O’Brien’s offensive coordinator at North Carolina State, Dana Bible, is still available.
According to a USA Today database of coaches salaries, Lazor earned more than $458,000 last year at Virginia.
But this isn’t the first time Lazor has flirted with the NFL. Last year, he was reportedly a candidate to become the Tampa Bay Bucanneers’ offensive coordinator. A former quarterback at Cornell, Lazor was previously the quarterbacks coach for the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks, and spent time as an assistant with the Atlanta Falcons, before joining London’s initial staff at Virginia in 2010.
“We have always been aware Bill Lazor might pursue a great opportunity in the National Football League,” Jon Oliver, Virginia’s executive associate athletics director, said in the statement. “The job he is taking with an NFL team is simply that. We see this as an opportunity for our football program that we will seek to maximize.”
With the Cavaliers, Lazor’s units had mixed results, his best season coming in 2011 when Virginia finished No. 46 in the country in total offense and surged late in the year to qualify for the program’s first bowl game since 2007. But Lazor’s offense failed to live up to expectations this past season, partly because he and London could never settle on a starting quarterback. Virginia was No. 81 nationally in yards per game in 2012.
This, though, is just the latest change since Virginia finished the 2012 campaign with a 4-8 record, their second four-win season in three years. The Cavaliers brought in new defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta and O’Brien after London fired four of his assistants, including defensive coordinator Jim Reid. The school also watched one potential replacement, Jeff Banks, last just nine days on the job before departing for a position at Texas A&M.
In addition, former quarterback Michael Rocco decided to transfer, defensive tackle Chris Brathwaite was dismissed from the team for academic reasons and five-star recruit Taquan Mizzell was arrested during a recruiting visit to Virginia earlier this month. On Monday, Virginia then announced it had agreed to play Oregon next year instead of a previously scheduled game at Penn State.
The Cavaliers open the season at home against BYU on Aug. 31, but now there’s a question as to who will be calling the plays that day.