Delaware in­tro­duces Danny Rocco as head foot­ball coach

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GROGAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— Univer­sity of Delaware Di­rec­tor of Ath­let­ics and Recre­ation Ser­vices Chrissi Rawak in­tro­duced Danny Rocco as the pro­gram’s new head foot­ball coach Wed­nes­day.

Rocco, who spent the last five sea­sons as the head coach of CAA ri­val Rich­mond, be­comes just the 22nd head coach in the school’s 125-year foot­ball his­tory and the only the sixth since 1940.

“It re­ally is an honor and a priv­i­lege for me to be the 22nd head foot­ball coach here at the Univer­sity of Delaware, a place rich of his­tory and tra­di­tion,” Rocco said. “I am re­ally com­mit­ted to putting our pro­gram back on a na­tional plat­form. And in do­ing so I rec­og­nize that it’s go­ing to have to be a team ef­fort, a col­lec­tive ef­fort. I think ev­ery­body within the Delaware fam­ily

NE­WARK, DEL.

has got to rally and unite.”

Rocco led the Spi­ders to con­sec­u­tive 10-win sea­sons and three straight NCAA Tour­na­ment ap­pear­ances. Rich­mond went 8-3 in its first sea­son un­der Rocco, af­ter go­ing 3-8 the pre­vi­ous year.

Be­fore tak­ing over at Rich­mond, he spent six years as head coach of Lib­erty. In 11 sea­sons as an FCS head coach, Rocco has amassed a 90-42 over­all record.

“Danny has turned two pro­grams around, has never had a los­ing sea­son as a head coach,” Rawak said. “He’s won six con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships, has been named coach of the year in his con­fer­ence four times. His play­ers ex­cel in the class­room and they’ve been all Amer­i­cans on the field. He’s worked in the NFL. He’s worked in the FBS. He’s worked in the FCS.”

Rawak said there was “un­be­liev­able in­ter­est” in the open po­si­tion, but that Roc- co was the clear choice.

“My fo­cus was find­ing the very, very best foot­ball coach for this pro­gram,” she said. “It just re­in­forced how spe­cial this place is and how spe­cial this pro­gram is. But I can tell you as we went through each step in this process, it be­came so clear to us that Danny Rocco was the right man for Delaware, not just the right man for this job, the right man for Delaware.”

Rocco re­places Dave Brock, who was fired in his fourth sea­son as head coach on Oct. 16. The Blue Hens have gone 4-7 in con­sec­u­tive sea­son – their first back-to-back los­ing years since 1938-39. Delaware has not made the NCAA Tour­na­ment since 2010. Rocco coached Rich­mond to a pair of play­off wins this sea­son be­fore fall­ing in the FCS quar­ter­fi­nals on Satur­day.

The Spi­ders beat Delaware 31-17 on Nov. 12, but Rocco re­called a visit to Tubby Ray­mond Field three years ear­lier that swayed his de­ci­sion.

“I came to this sta­dium in 2013 to play the Delaware foot­ball team. I walked the sta­dium, I walked the cam­pus, I walked the grounds, and I saw those six Na­tional Cham­pi­onship ban­ners out there in the sta­dium,” he said. “I kind of grew up in this part of the coun­try. I grew up with an un­be­liev­able ad­mi­ra­tion for Delaware foot­ball.”

Be­yond his track record of turn­ing col­lege foot­ball pro­grams around, Blue Hens fans have more rea­sons to be ex­cited for Rocco’s first sea­son at the helm.

“I think that we have a real solid ros­ter here mov­ing for­ward,” he said. “When we played this year, I stud­ied the ros­ter like I did ev­ery team on our sched­ule, and I rec­og­nized some youth. I rec­og­nized a smaller se­nior class. And I think there’s some real op­ti­mism in that.”

He plans on get­ting to work right away.

“I have an ac­tion plan in place. I have a three-phase ac­tion plan. Phase one starts tomorrow and it’ll re­ally start fo­cus­ing in on the re­cruit­ing cy­cle. It’ll fo­cus in on the staff eval­u­a­tions and in­ter­views,” Rocco said. “I will in­ter­view and com­mu­ni­cate with ev­ery sin­gle coach that was on staff here last year, and I’ll con­tinue to com­mu­ni­cate with other coaches, some of which are on my staff at the Univer­sity of Rich­mond. So putting my staff to­gether, get­ting off to a fast start here in re­cruit­ing, and then meet­ing the per­son­nel here on cam­pus and con­nect­ing with the com­mu­nity are the things I want to be able to do here be­fore the Christ­mas break.”

Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF UD ATH­LET­ICS/MARK CAMPBELL

Danny Rocco ad­dresses play­ers and fans Wed­nes­day af­ter be­ing named the new head foot­ball coach for the Blue Hens.

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