After a search that lasted seven weeks and included at least two unsuccessful attempts at securing at an offensive coordinator, Virginia coach Mike London finally has his man on offense.
Bill Lazor, who most recently was the quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks, is U.Va.'s new offensive coordinator. Lazor, 37, brings 16 seasons of college and National Football League coaching experience, including four with the Washington Redskins, to Charlottesville. Yet, he has been an offensive coordinator for just two seasons.
"In my mind I have an unbelievable view of what Virginia football is, what it's going to be and should be," Lazor said in a release from U.Va.'s athletic department. "I think Virginia is aplace that is going to win, a place full of great people text ignored not only the student-athletes we have a chance to coach, but also the people involved coaching the team, supporting the team and those part of the University."
Lazor opened his coaching career from 1994-2000 at Cornell, his alma mater and the place where he set 26 passing and total offense records as a three-year starter at quarterback. During his tenure at Cornell, he coached running backs, wide receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends, and worked as the recruiting coordinator.
He became the University of Buffalo's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in the '01 and '02 seasons, before moving to the NFL in '03 as an offensive quality control coach for the Atlanta Falcons, who were coached at the time by Dan Reeves.
"He's an impressive young man," Reeves told the Daily Press on Thursday. "I don't think I've ever been around someone who picked up a system and terminology as fast as he did.
"Terminology is sort of like learning a language. You can take a Spanish course and go to Mexico and not really speak the language. Bill spoke (our) language."
Before hiring Lazor, London pursued Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, who was U.Va.'s offensive coordinator in '01 and '02, and Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer, the former coach at James Madison.
Both Musgrave and Scherer withdrew from the search.
In the NFL, Lazor gained further experience as an offensive assistant coach from '04-07 with the Washington Redskins, where he coached quarterbacks in his final two seasons and worked for former coach Joe Gibbs. Lazor took over as the quarterbacks coach in Seattle in '08 after Jim Zorn left the position to become the Redskins' coach.
In Seattle, Lazor worked under coaches Mike Holmgren in '08 and Jim Mora this season. Lazor tutored starting quarterbacks Jason Campbell in Washington and Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle.
"Bill brings a wealth of football knowledge and influence working for threeNFL Hall of Fame head coaches," London said in the U.Va. release. "Like all the other coaches on staff, he is of high character and integrity. Bill was an accomplished college quarterback as a player, and has been a college coordinator and recruiter for an academic institution of high standing, which makes him a good fit with the staff who will represent the University of Virginia in a positive manner."
At Buffalo, Lazor was the offensive coordinator under coach Jim Hofher, a former North Carolina assistant coach. In '01, the Bulls went 3-8 and were 100th in the nation in total offense and 101st in scoring offense. In '02, Buffalo went 1-11 and were 112th in scoring offense and 116th in total offense.
During his short stint in Atlanta, which ended after the '03 season when Reeves was fired, Lazor gained a reputation as a tireless worker. He was in charge of charting statistics, goals and tendencies, and editing game film.
"He was always anxious to do more," Reeves said. "I can't say enough good things about him Bill just took it to the extreme. He did things you hadn't even thought about."
Lazor, who was not retained by Seattle earlier this month when the Seahawks hired coach Pete Carroll, came to Holmgren in Seattle after being highly recommended by Reeves and Gibbs.
"Both Dan and Joe phoned me on the same day, within two hours of one another, and said 'You have got to hire this guy,'" Holmgren told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"I really respect both (Reeves and Gibbs) a lot. They're the best football coaches ever, so their recommendations came with a lot of weight."