WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Mike London has roamed the sidelines at William & Mary before as an assistant from 1991-1994. On Saturday, he’ll hit the field for a home game once again, this time as the Tribe’s head coach. It’s a place not far from where he established his football roots.
“Family, brothers, sisters, people who I grew up with, went to school with at Tabb and Bethel High School, they’re from down here,” London said on Tuesday. “University of Richmond ties in this area as well, so it is. It feels like home.”
The last time London took the field for a home game at Zable Stadium, he was taking direction from Jimmye Laycock. Now, 25 years later, he’ll lead William & Mary as Laycock’s successor.
“Now, being the head guy, the responsibilities have changed, but the desire to win and the passion and energy are still there,” London remarked. “We’re looking forward to having a very competitive game this Saturday against Lafayette.”
London and his staff have wasted no time putting their fingerprints on the program. Tribe players call the head coach’s energy “contagious,” but what may hold higher meaning are London’s actions away from the gridiron.
“They were more concerned about us as players, not really about what we wanted to do with football,” said junior fullback Tyler Crist said. “They really cared about getting to know us personally.”
“From day one, he’s been energetic, he’s been about his players,” added redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Carl Fowler. “He’s put his neck out on the line for us on a number of occasions to people who are probably a little bit more powerful than he is, and he’s doing everything he can to be on our side, show us that he cares.”
Expectations are not high for London’s first year leading the green and gold. William & Mary has been picked to finish eleventh in the 12 team CAA, but for London, it’s one more thing he can use to rally the troops.
“'Eleventh out of 12, eleventh out of 12, I love it.' He’s got this thing ‘eat your words.’ He’s making sure we know that we’re being doubted,” said Fowler.
The first step- a strong showing in the season opener on Saturday against Lafayette. This marks the first season at home for the Tribe since 2007, and players and coaches hope that they can perform in front of an electric atmosphere.
“I’ve spoken to the student orientation committee, I’ve spoken to Cheers for First Years, to anybody and everybody to come out and support the student-athletes here so we’re looking for a big crowd,” said London.
London is certainly well-known throughout the commonwealth. He was the head coach at Richmond, his alma mater, from 2008-2009, then led Virginia from 2010-2015.
The Tribe and Lafayette kick off on Saturday at 6:00pm.
Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.