The University of Richmond announced Tuesday that Danny Rocco has been named the 35th head coach of the Spider Football program. A three-time Big South Coach of the Year as the head coach of Liberty who brings nearly 30 years of coaching experience to Richmond, Rocco will be introduced at a press conference on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the Robins Center.
Wednesday's press conference will be carried live on SpiderTV with live audio being made available on RichmondSpiders.com. ESPN 950 will also air the press conference.
"I am pleased to welcome Coach Rocco and his family to the University of Richmond," said Richmond Athletic Director Jim Miller. "He is an experienced coach with a proven record of leadership both on the field and in the community. Coach Rocco is the right fit for Spider Football in an important time for our program."
"I'm very excited about the opportunity given to me by Jim Miller and President Ayers to be the head football coach at the University of Richmond," said Rocco. "Richmond is a very impressive academic institution that combines the significance and importance of success on the field and in the classroom. The recent success of Richmond football excites me and I really can't wait to get to work returning the Spider program back to those winning ways."
Rocco arrived at Liberty following the program's 1-10 finish in 2005 and has since transformed the program as the architect of six consecutive winning seasons with the Flames. In his first season in 2006, Liberty won five more games (6-5) than the previous year, an improvement that tied for the best FCS turnaround in the nation that season.
As a result of his immediate impact on the program, Rocco was named Big South Coach of the Year for the first time in school history in 2006, the first of three straight years he would receive the honor. 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 past three seasons.
Since the team's stunning turnaround in 2006, Rocco's teams have continued to dominate in the Big South Conference and beyond. The Flames have rolled to a 47-20 overall record and an impressive 26-6 mark in Big South play under Rocco, winning no fewer than seven games in each of the past five seasons. Nationally, Liberty has finished the last three years ranked inside the Top 25 and was ranked 23rd in the most recent FCS Top 25 poll released on Nov. 21.
In Rocco's six years at the helm in Lynchburg, the Flames captured their first-ever Big South Championship in 2007 and went on to win the next three conference titles as well. During this four-year span, Rocco had the third-highest winning percentage among FCS coaches nationally with his 34-11 record (.756). Rocco's overall winning percentage of .714 ranks fifth in the nation among FCS coaches over the last 10 years of competition.
Liberty has been able to achieve and sustain such success under Rocco by winning on both sides of the ball. From 2007-10, the Flames ranked first in the nation among FCS programs with 37.28 scoring average per game while ranking seventh by allowing just 19.17 points per game. The Flames were also the top-ranked team in FCS Football in turnover margin in over the course of Rocco's first five seasons at Liberty.
Rocco's players have undoubtedly exceled under his guidance, as he has coached 97 Big South all-conference honorees and 19 players who have garnered All-America honors, including a pair of consensus All-Americans in running back Rashad Jennings (2008) and kicker Matt Begins (2009, 2010).
Four of Rocco's student-athletes in Vince Redd (New England), Stephen Sene (St. Louis), Trey Jacobs (Washington) and Rashad Jennings (Jacksonville) have also gone on to play in the professional ranks in the National Football League. Jennings became Liberty's first NFL Draft selection in two decades when he was chosen in the seventh round by the Jaguars in 2009.
Prior to his arrival at Liberty, Rocco spent the previous five seasons at Virginia beginning in 2001. Here, he helped guide the Cavaliers to four-consecutive bowl appearances, including back-to-back Continental Tire Bowl victories in 2002 and 2003, and 37 overall wins alongside Al Groh as an assistant head coach/linebacker coach.
Rocco would also serve as the Cavaliers' recruiting coordinator his first year 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. Rocco would quickly be promoted to associate head coach while continuing to serve as linebackers coach.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Wake Forest. He spent the 1984 and 1985 seasons with the Demon Deacons before being hired as the defensive line coach before the 1986 season.
Rocco was then hired by Colorado head coach Bill McCartney as an assistant linebackers coach for the 1987 season before heading to Tulsa to serve as the outside linebackers coach from 1998-90.
He returned to the East Coast for the 1991-93 season to work for current New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin as his defensive line coach at Boston College, helping Coughlin revitalize the Golden Eagle's return to the national stage as participants in the 1992 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 1993 Carquest Bowl.
Following his successful stint at Boston College, Rocco then served as the outside linebackers coach at the University of Texas at Austin, where the Longhorns captured three straight conference titles, including winning the inaugural Big 12 Championship in 1996 and earning bids to three consecutive bowl games (Sun Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl).
His career would then continue at Maryland, where he served as the linebackers coach during the 1998 and 1999 seasons before reuniting with his mentor, Groh, as an assistant linebacker/special teams coach with the New York Jets for the team's 2000 campaign. He would then follow Groh to Virginia for the 2001-2005 seasons.
Rocco began his college playing career 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 under Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno before joining the Liberty staff for a six-year stint in 2000. Frank Rocco, Jr., also joined the Flames staff in 2000 as a wide receivers/quarterbacks coach and received a promotion to offensive coordinator prior to his departure in 2003. Both he and brother, Dave, both currently coach at the high school level in Virginia.
Rocco has been an active member of the community since arriving in Lynchburg. He is a member of the Lynchburg Sports Club as well as the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has been a member of the Virginia High School Coaches Association since 2001.
A native of Huntingdon, Pa., Rocco is married to the former Julie Mills. They are the parents of two children, David (20) and Amy (18).
Here's What They're Saying About Danny Rocco:
"Danny did a great job at Liberty. He comes from a football family. When he was with me at Boston College, he was an outstanding young football coach, and he had his blinders on from Day One: Family, Religion and Football. He has great people skills, and as a result, has always been an outstanding recruiter and football coach, and the players enjoy playing for him."
-- Tom Coughlin, New York Giants Head Coach
"I have known Danny Rocco for over ten years. We have coached together and remained close friends as our paths have taken us in different directions.
"It's fitting that our paths connect again by our association with the University of Richmond. Danny has a proven track record of winning and getting the best out of the student-athletes he serves. He does it the right way. I am sure he will be successful and as a football alumnus welcome him to Richmond."
----Mike London, University of Virginia Head Football Coach
"I've known Dan Rocco since he was a captain of our team at Wake Forest. Dan knows the game inside and out, and most importantly, knows how to get the best out of his players. He's the fourth member from our Virginia staff to be the head coach at Richmond. They know what they're getting, and that's an outstanding coach."
-- Al Groh, Georgia Tech defensive coordinator
Rocco's Coaching Experience
Rocco's Coaching Experience
2011-present University of Richmond (head coach)
2005-2011 Liberty (head coach)
2003-05 Virginia (associate head coach/linebackers)
2001-02 Virginia (assistant head coach/linebackers/recruiting coordinator)
2000 New York Jets (assistant linebackers/special teams)
1998-99 Maryland (outside linebackers/assistant special teams)
1997 Texas (special teams coordinator/defensive ends)
1994-96 Texas (outside linebackers)
1991-93 Boston College (defensive line)
1988-90 Tulsa (outside linebackers)
1987 Colorado (assistant linebackers)
1986 Wake Forest (defensive line)
1984-85 Wake Forest (defensive graduate assistant)