In Mike London’s previous stint with the College of William & Mary, he had a different view of things. And not just because he was an assistant and Jimmye Laycock was the head coach.
“The locker room was over there under the bleachers,” he said recently, looking out across the field at Zable Stadium from his office on the second floor of the Laycock Center. “You had to turn the water on for 15 minutes and then wait for hot water. If you really wanted to get out of there, you took a cold shower. Forget that (now).”
Now is 25 years later, and Laycock is no longer the head coach, having retired last year after 39 years with the Tribe. London was named his successor in late November, and is preparing for his first spring practice in Williamsburg since he was a defensive line coach from 1991-1994. The Tribe’s first of 15 spring practices is Saturday, and the annual spring game is set for April 13.
While the players haven’t been allowed to practice yet this year, they have been working with the sports performance coaches. Since this will be London’s first look at players in action, he has a lot to take in.
“We’re going to assess skills, capabilities, where our needs might be. We’ll see from an athletic evaluation where we’re at,” he said, noting that depending on what happens in the next month, he might try to add another transfer or two.
What he really wants to get out of the NCAA-allowed 15 practices in the spring is a team identity.
“Obviously, we want to be tough, smart, focused. We want our football IQ to be high,” he said. “And (we want to) demonstrate the ability to run an up-tempo offense and adapt to a new style of defense.”
In looking at the returning players on a team that went 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the CAA, he thinks one of his team’s strengths will be the defensive line.
Leading the way there are Bill Murray and Carl Fowler. Murray is a 6-foot-4, 290-pound tackle from New Jersey. He was named second-team all-CAA last year as a junior. He blocked three kicks and had a team-high 4.5 sacks. Fowler, listed at 6-4, 260, is coming off a solid freshman year.
“Tight end … seems like a good group of candidates there,” he said. “We need to simplify our quarterback situation or a least evaluate them. I think we have good running backs. … Linebacker-wise, we think we are in good shape.”
London won’t know what he really has until he can see his players line up against one another, which makes this spring an important one for him and the Tribe.