Considering Bill Lazor’s history with the NFL -- and his flirtations with the league last year -- it should come as no surprise that he left his job as Virginia's offensive coordinator to join the Philadelphia Eagles. It seemed inevitable. The hire of former NC State coach Tom O’Brien as associate head coach probably didn’t do much to sway Lazor to stay, given that move could have blurred the chain of command, but the overriding factor likely boiled down to Lazor’s interest and experience in the next level.
The bigger question is what’s next for Virginia’s offense.
This is an important hire for coach Mike London (and apparently his boss, executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver, who seems to enjoy weighing in on these things). It comes at an inopportune time, as signing day is only a week away, but more importantly, it comes at a time when Virginia needs to find stability and development at the quarterback position.
The Cavaliers -- particularly in the running game -- underachieved in 2012, especially considering the talent they had on the offensive line with Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi. They also had a seasoned quarterback to work with in Michael Rocco, who has since transferred, but the puzzling use of Rocco and backup Phillip Sims made the position an ongoing storyline instead of a strength.
Once again, the quarterbacks will be the focus in Charlottesville this offseason, as they have for the past several years. Sims isn’t the only option, as David Watford also has significant experience and has drawn praise from London. Rookie Greyson Lambert will also be given a chance to earn the starting role. The next coordinator will not only have to choose the next starter, but he will also have to be on the same page as London, who openly favored the two-quarterback system in the past.
The Cavaliers could turn to O’Brien, who was Virginia’s offensive coordinator for six years under George Welsh, but both O’Brien and London have made it clear that O’Brien’s role is to guide London and be a resource to him, and help manage the program. Juggling those responsibilities and acting as offensive coordinator and calling the plays on game day would be a lot to ask.
With seven starters returning on defense and four starters back on the offensive line, Virginia can and should be better in 2013. Hiring O’Brien was a huge step in the right direction, but it likely wasn’t the last step.