Blue Hens To Introduce New Football Head Coach


NEWARK — University of Delaware Director of Athletics and Recreation Services Chrissi Rawak announced Tuesday that Danny Rocco, who has enjoyed outstanding success at NCAA Division I FCS members Liberty University and University of Richmond over the last decade, has been selected to lead the Blue Hens as head football coach.Coach Rocco will be formally introduced on Wednesday, Dec. 14, in a welcome celebration at the Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium at 1 p.m.

University of Richmond
University of Richmond

Rocco, 56, who led the University of Richmond to back-to-back 10-win seasons and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, becomes just the 22nd head coach in Delaware’s 125-season history and just the sixth head coach since 1940.

“I’m thrilled that Danny Rocco will be the new head coach for the Fightin’ Blue Hens,” said UD President Dennis Assanis. “Like all of us at UD, Danny is committed to excellence in everything he does. He brings significant coaching experience at both the collegiate and professional level. Most importantly, Danny is dedicated to the success of our student-athletes, both on the field and in the classroom. We know he will build a powerful team of players and coaches and take UD Football into a strong and winning future.”

“We welcome Coach Rocco and his family to our Blue Hen Football family,” said Rawak. “This is an exciting day for the University of Delaware, our football program, our student-athletes, and everyone who loves and supports Blue Hen football. During our search we wanted to find someone who had demonstrated outstanding success not only on the field but in building young men as leaders, citizens, and achievers. In Coach Rocco we found the perfect fit and someone who is committed to excellence in every area. We are excited to see the direction he takes us under his leadership. His impact will be felt immediately.”

A veteran of 33 seasons as a football coach, including the last 11 as a head coach at the NCAA Division I FCS level, Rocco has found nothing but success. He has never posted a losing season and owns a career record of 90-42 (.682), including a 10-4 mark this past fall when Richmond went 5-3 in Colonial Athletic Association and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.

The No. 12 ranked Spiders defeated No. 17 North Carolina A&T 39-10 in the opening round and rallied to down No. 8 North Dakota 27-24 on the road in the second round before falling at No. 3 Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals this past Saturday.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I accept the head football coaching position at the University of Delaware,” said Rocco. “I am very excited to take on this challenge, recognizing that I have full and total support from President Assanis and AD Chrissi Rawak. I have always had an appreciation for the history and tradition of Delaware Football and I am highly motivated to return Delaware to its winning ways and to a position of national prominence.”

A native of Huntingdon, Pa. and a 1984 graduate of Wake Forest University, Rocco inherits a program that has won six national championships, finished as national runner-up five times, made 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, and captured 16 conference championships. However, the Hens have not advanced to postseason play since 2010 and have posted consecutive 4-7 seasons, the first back-to-back losing seasons in school history since 1938-39. Dave Brock, who led the Blue Hens for the previous four seasons, was dismissed on Oct. 16 and replaced by interim head coach Dennis Dottin-Carter.

Rocco, whose Richmond team defeated Delaware 31-17 at home back on Nov. 12, transformed the Spiders back into a national power during his five-year tenure. He inherited a team that went 3-8 in 2011 and led the 2012 squad to a five-win turnaround with an 8-3 overall record and a share of the CAA title.

He went on to lead Richmond to a five-year record of 43-22 that included three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, including a berth in the semifinals in 2015 and a trip to the quarterfinals this past season. He was named the Touchdown Club of Richmond Coach of the Year in both 2012 and 2015 and was a finalist for the FCS Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award both of those seasons.

During his 11 seasons as a head coach (five at Richmond, six at Liberty), he has been a National Coach of the Year Finalist five times, and has won six conference championships and four conference Coach of the Year honors. He has coached 156 all-conference honorees and 28 student-athletes (not including 2016) who garnered All-American honors, including four Richmond players in 2015 – Brian Brown, Jacobi Green, David Jones and Nick Ritcher.

Twelve different players under Rocco’s tutelage have gone on to earn professional contracts and his teams have finished in the final FCS Top-25 poll in eight of the past nine seasons, including finishing No. 3 in 2015 and No. 12 this past season. During his time with the Spiders, Richmond defeated 14 nationally-ranked opponents, including a victory over then-No.3 James Madison during the 2015 season when ESPN’s College GameDay was in Harrisonburg, Va.

Rocco becomes only the third man in Colonial Athletic Association Football (formerly Yankee Conference and Atlantic 10 Conference) history to serve as head coach at two different institutions. Jim Reid coached at former CAA member Massachusetts in 1986-91 before moving on to serve as head coach at Richmond in 1995-2003. Current University of Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown was head coach at Northeastern in 2000-03 before moving over to UMass in 2004-08.

At Liberty, Rocco made an immediate impact, taking over a program that had gone 1-10 in 2005 and building the Flames into a Big South Conference power. He led his first team to a 6-5 record (the largest turnaround of any FCS program that season) and guided the squad to Big South Conference Championship four times in six seasons.

He posted an overall record of 47-20 (26-5 in league play) and was named Big South Coach of the Year four times. He would go on to be named a finalist for the national Eddie Robinson Award and Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award in each of the final three seasons in Lynchburg. Liberty finished the last four years ranked inside the Top 25 in both major FCS polls.

Before becoming a head coach, Rocco spent 23 seasons at the NCAA Division I Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and National Football League levels.

Prior to his arrival at Liberty, Rocco spent the previous five seasons at Virginia. He was a part of four consecutive bowl appearances for the Cavaliers, including back-to-back Continental Tire Bowl victories in 2002 and 2003. During his time in Charlottesville, UVA piled up 37 wins with Rocco serving as the associate head coach and linebackers coach under Al Groh.

In addition to his coaching duties with the Cavaliers, he also served as the recruiting coordinator during his first two years in Charlottesville. His 2002 recruiting class was ranked in the top 10 in the nation by many of the major recruiting services, including a fifth-place ranking by ESPN.

Prior to UVA, Rocco spent the 2000 season alongside Groh as an assistant linebacker and special teams coach with the New York Jets. Before joining the Jets, he was the linebackers coach at Maryland during the 1998 and 1999 campaigns.

Prior to his time in College Park, Rocco spent four seasons at the University of Texas, where the Longhorns captured three straight conference titles, including winning the inaugural Big 12 Championship in 1996 and earning three consecutive trips to bowl games (Sun Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl).

Before Tom Coughlin was a Super Bowl winning coach with the New York Giants, he was Rocco’s mentor at Boston College for two seasons. As a defensive assistant, Rocco was a part of the revitalization of the Golden Eagles, returning the program to the national stage as participants in the 1992 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 1993 Carquest Bowl.

Rocco also spent the 1987 season as the linebackers coach at Colorado under Bill McCartney and three seasons as the linebackers coach at Tulsa.

The start of Rocco’s coaching career came at his alma mater, Wake Forest, where he spent three seasons in total, two as a graduate assistant and one as the defensive line coach during the 1986 season.

As a player, Rocco’s collegiate career began at Penn State, where he earned two varsity letters and competed in the 1979 Liberty Bowl and the 1980 Fiesta Bowl before transferring to Wake Forest. While in Winston-Salem, he was a two-year starter and senior captain for Groh.

He was no stranger to coaching after growing up in a football family. His father, Frank Rocco, Sr., served as an assistant coach at Penn State before joining the Liberty staff in 2000. Frank Rocco, Jr., also joined the Flames staff in 2000 as a wide receivers and quarterbacks coach and received a promotion to offensive coordinator prior to his departure in 2003. Frank, and brother, Dave, are both currently coaching at the high school level in Virginia.

In January of 2016, Rocco was elected to the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees.

Rocco is married to the former Julie Mills and they are the parents of two children, David and Amy.

Source: UD Athletics

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