William & Mary has hired Mike London to succeed longtime football coach Jimmye Laycock, Director of Athletics Samantha K. Huge announced Monday afternoon. London will have his introductory news conference Tuesday.
The news conference will be more akin to a reintroduction for London, 58, who grew up in Hampton, Va., played college football at Richmond and worked as an assistant at William & Mary before bouncing around to several other football programs in the region. He finished his second season as Howard’s head coach on Saturday.
“This is an exciting day for William & Mary, and we are thrilled to welcome Mike and his family back to Williamsburg,” Huge said in a release. “Mike embodies the values and character that we need to lead our football program forward and he has demonstrated an ability to develop players and win championships over his nearly 30 years in coaching. His unique journey and commitment to the development of young men make him the perfect successor to carry on Coach Jimmye Laycock’s 39-year legacy while forging a new path for Tribe Football.”
William & Mary will be London’s fourth stint as a head coach, following two years at Richmond, six years at Virginia and two at Howard.
A former police officer in Richmond, London is known as a standout recruiter and motivator, and his 62-61 record as a head coach is dotted with several memorable victories. At Howard, he led the Bison to a monumental upset of Football Bowl Subdivision UNLV last year. At Richmond, he led the Spiders to the 2008 Football Championship Subdivision title, a triumph that first put him on the national map.
London won that title in his first year at Richmond, and after the Spiders' run to the quarterfinals in the 2009 FCS playoffs, Virginia hired him to replace Al Groh. But London was unable to replicate his success with the Spiders in Charlottesville, and Virginia fired him after five losing seasons in six years (Virginia went 8-5 in 2011).
He bounced back by spending a season as Maryland’s assistant head coach/defensive line coach before Howard hired him in 2017. The Bison went 7-4 in London’s inaugural year and ended this season 4-6 after a 56-55 home loss to Bryant on Saturday.
London will be William & Mary’s first male African American head coach in any sport.
“I come to William & Mary with a deep appreciation for the university, football program and community,” London said in a release. “I am honored and excited to build on the incredible tradition of excellence Jimmye Laycock established. He is a part of the foundation of my career and someone I have always respected. I sincerely appreciate President Katherine Rowe and Samantha Huge for making this opportunity possible. I look forward to working with them to pursue championships while developing student-athletes who will pursue excellence in the classroom and on the playing field.”
London indeed has big shoes to fill. Laycock, the gruff but beloved head coach, finished his 39th season at William & Mary on Saturday after 445 games on the sideline.
He took over a struggling program in 1980 and finished with a 249-194-2 record that included 10 playoff berths. Along the way, he coached two future NFL head coaches, Mike Tomlin and Sean McDermott, both of whom offered input during William & Mary’s coaching search. The school had ample time to settle on Laycock’s successor, as he announced in August that the 2018 season would be his last.
London himself spent three years coaching William & Mary’s defensive line under Laycock in the early 1990s. The new head coach inherits a Tribe team that skews young and posted a 4-6 record this year.
London’s William & Mary debut is scheduled for Aug. 31 against Lafayette before he takes the Tribe on the road to face Virginia on Sept. 7.
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