December 3, 2015

If you follow college football in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you’ll know this past weekend was a big one. And when it was over, the state’s two most prominent football coaches left the news media with a lot to talk about. Virginia Tech’s long-time head coach Frank Beamer will retire after this season and their win secured an opportunity to cap off his career with a final Bowl Game appearance.

The story, however, is a bit different for University of Virginia’s (former) Head Coach Mike London.  London resigned from his head coaching position following their loss. There is a lesson on candor in his story, and that’s a win that can’t be ignored.

A resignation – or firing, or any departure from a job under any circumstances – is tough. It is uncomfortable. Emotions, and sometimes egos, run high and tensions ensue. Add to the mix the publicity that comes with collegiate sports, and there’s opportunity for tremendous blame. London showed us how to handle this surely disappointing and frustrating moment in his life with grace and respect – and candor.

“I took this job to make a profound difference in the lives of young men and to re-establish Virginia football as one of the best programs in the ACC. While we were successful in the development of our players in many areas, I would have liked to have won more games for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and everyone that’s a part of the University of Virginia.” ~ Mike London,

London is open in his acknowledgement that winning games was one of two important expectations; and he is direct about his failure to accomplish that goal. There is no secrecy, defensiveness or blame, just the truth of the simple fact that he needed to win more games.

His candor is refreshing and reassuring. College football is an influential, high-stakes, huge-investment industry and London reminds us to focus on the basics – and the value of being honest, direct and respectful.