Continued from page 1

“When you’re here every day, you have a good feel just for the air, the atmosphere and the environment surrounding the team,” he said. “There’s no question it’s been positive.”

London also reached out to the community, inviting the Boys & Girls Club to attend practice. The team held a bone marrow drive, and London brought a benefactor to meet the team.

He visited sororities and fraternities, telling them he needed their help, and sent players to help with their fundraisers, trying to create a sense of reciprocal support.

“If you’re going to ask people to do things like come to my games, you’ve got to show that you’re interested in what they are doing, too,” London said.

He visited with deans, assuring them that he was as committed as they are to having his team perform in the classroom, and was among the coaches doing class attendance checks.

“I have three rules,” London said. “The first is go to class. Gotta go to class. The second is show class in all you do, and the third is treat people with dignity and respect.”

On the academic side, the team he inherited had some problems.

“Some guys were scrambling to get in a position where they could breathe academically,” he said. “It will be better than it was, because what it was not very good.”

London has put together a coaching staff that shares his vision, meeting individually with players to lay out his expectations, and recruiting the state.

In Virginia, that means having a big presence _ and a lot of success _ in talent-rich Hampton Roads, where Hampton High School coach Mike Smith said Groh had “quit recruiting.”

“I think Al just wanted people from a different area,” Smith said.

A Hampton Roads native, London and his staff quickly began making inroads.

Smith’s Crabbers this year will feature David Watford at quarterback; next season, he’ll be at Virginia, the first Hampton player to commit to the Cavaliers in the past 10 years.

He chose Virginia over Virginia Tech, which has dominated recruiting in the area.

That’s a step in the right direction, even if results this year might not be what Cavaliers fans are hoping for right away.