Jeff Banks, we hardly knew ya.
That must have been what Virginia’s football coaching staff and Wahoo Nation thought on Thursday when the school announced that Banks, recently hired special teams coordinator, was leaving the Cavaliers program after a week on the job and heading to the Southeastern Conference.
According to sources, Banks will be named the associate head coach at Texas A&M sometime this week. While UVa lured Banks away from Texas El Paso, where he had coached under recently retired Mike Price for the past nine seasons, A&M obviously made Banks an offer he couldn’t refuse.
While Banks was making his exit, Virginia found a new graduate assistant to replace Marques Hagans, who was elevated to a full-time position on the Cavaliers’ staff as wide receivers coach. Taking Hagans’ GA spot for the next two years will be Tommy Reamon Jr., son of longtime state of Virginia high school coach Tommy Reamon, who mentored former UVa quarterback Aaron Brooks and former Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick.
Reamon Jr. attended Old Dominion University, where he was a backup quarterback and tight end for the Monarchs. While he has a year of eligibility remaining, Reamon has decided to forgo his playing days and begin his coaching career at UVa. He will be assigned to work under the wing of Cavaliers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.
With Reamon Jr. added to the program, coach Mike London’s recruiting effort in the talent-rich “757” area of the state will only be enhanced due his celebrated father’s roots to the high schools in that region.
Meanwhile, Virginia has already launched a national search to find a replacement for Banks, who was set to coach the Cavaliers’ special teams and to also serve as running backs coach. He was brought on board Jan. 1, along with former N.C. State head coach Tom O’Brien, former N.C. State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta, and Hagans.
“I would like to thank the University of Virginia, athletics director Craig Littlepage, Jon Oliver and Mike London for giving me an opportunity to coach at UVa,” Banks said in a released statement. “I think there is a great future ahead for Virginia’s football program and I was excited about being a part of it.
“This was a very difficult decision for my family and me to make because we instantly fell in love with Charlottesville and the people here,” Banks added. “I’m very fortunate to have been presented with both of these opportunities in such a short period of time. Ultimately, the opportunity to coach in the SEC with a friend was too hard to pass up.”
By accepting the Texas A&M job, Banks is leaving one friend to coach for another. Banks had a personal relationship with Virginia associate athletic director Jon Oliver from their days together at Washington State, where Banks was a punter for the Cougars’ Rose Bowl team and Oliver was rising through the athletic administration ranks. Banks is a longtime associate of A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and even lists Sumlin as a reference on his job resume.
Sumlin led the Aggies to a successful first season in the SEC, becoming the only team in the nation to defeat eventual national champion Alabama. Sumlin led A&M to a Cotton Bowl victory and produced Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
The A&M opening occurred this week when former Aggies special teams coordinator Brian Polian left the program to accept the head coaching job at Nevada.
“I was very much looking forward to having Jeff as a member of our staff,” Virginia head coach Mike London said. “We thought very highly of him. Knowing the position being presented to Jeff, I understood his desire to pursue that opportunity.”
While Banks had agreed to a two-year contract at UVa worth $150,000 annually, he likely will double his salary or more at A&M. The average salary for assistant coaches at SEC schools is slightly more than $300,000 per year.
With Banks leaving, London doesn’t expect the search for a replacement to be a long one.
“We had considerable interest in this position from a number of quality coaches and now the task is to find an individual who will be able to help us reach our goals and improve as a football program,” the Cavaliers’ head coach said.