RICHMOND—Leading a college football program for the first time isn't that daunting. Not when you've stared down the business end of a bad guy's revolver. Not when you've donated bone marrow to your sick little girl.
And certainly not when that initial head-coaching opportunity doubles as a homecoming.
The University of Richmond introduced Mike London as its football coach Saturday. Former city detective Mike London; devoted and thankful father Mike London; UR class of 1983 Mike London.
"It's a perfect fit," he said.
Sure seems that way.
London knows the school, the city, the state and the game.
He attended Tabb High before transferring to Bethel for his senior year and graduating in 1979. He captained Richmond in 1982 and earned his degree in sociology.
London worked as an assistant coach at Richmond, William and Mary, Boston College and with the NFL's Houston Texans. He served two tours at the University of Virginia, most recently as defensive coordinator, and was hands-down the program's most effective recruiter.
"I've been trained for this," London said.
Trained by his parents - his dad is retired military - to treat others with dignity and respect. Trained by head coaches such as Jimmye Laycock, Tom O'Brien and Al Groh to value academic as well as athletic ability.
But none of those old-school types can match London's sideline animation. So brace yourselves, Spiders faithful and players, for loud yelps and aerial chest-bumping.
"I'm an excitable guy," London said with a grin.
A grateful one, too. Grateful that the burglar's gun misfired. Grateful that his 12-year-old daughter Ticynn is coping well with a rare blood disorder, Fanconi anemia, that can lead to leukemia and cancer if not treated effectively.
London's brush with death came during the late 1980s when, as a Richmond police detective, he and his partner stopped suspects in a fast-food robbery. As London - he fancied himself a Secret Service agent while attending Richmond - reached into the driver's-side door, a man raised his gun and pulled the trigger.
Nothing. Just a click.
"That can change your mind quickly about what you want to do with your life," London said.
So he became a coach. While working at Boston College in 2000, London learned of Ticynn's condition, and three years later he donated his bone marrow, a procedure that worked wonders.
Saturday Ticynn and her three younger siblings sat with their mom while their dad spoke and answered questions.
"Ticynn's doing great," said Regina London, a Newport News native. "We're so blessed."