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Greg Gattuso Named UAlbany Head Football Coach

New Great Dane head football coach Greg Gattuso, center, is introduced to the campus and the region at a press conference on December 10. With him are Director of Athletics Lee McElroy (left) and President Robert Jones. (Photos courtesy of Bill Ziskin)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 9, 2013) – Greg Gattuso, assistant head football coach at the University of Maryland and a former head coach at Duquesne University, has been named the University at Albany’s head football coach. The 51-year-old Gattuso becomes the second football coach in the program’s 41-varsity season history, taking the reins from program architect Bob Ford.

“Coach Gattuso is a proven winner who will sustain the legacy created by Bob Ford,” said Dr. Lee McElroy, UAlbany’s Vice-President and Director of Athletics.

“His values of integrity, academic excellence, community service, and humility reflect the University’s commitment to quality,” added McElroy. “Coach Gattuso impressed everyone during the search process with his energy, vision, enthusiasm and understanding of the core values of the University at Albany.”

Gattuso (ga-TWO-so), who also served six years as an assistant coach for the University of Pittsburgh, agreed with the University on a five-year contract. A five-year agreement is the maximum allowed under New York State guidelines.

The new coach was introduced to the area at a Dec. 10 press conference in the Hall of Fame Room of the SEFCU Arena.

“I am fired up to meet the kids and get started,” said Gattuso upon his hire. “I feel the BCS training has sharpened my leadership skills and I am excited to be a head coach again.”

Greg Gattuso and Bob Ford of UAlbany

New UAlbany head football coach Greg Gattuso stands with legendary Great Dane coach Bob Ford, who retires this year after 41 years and 256 wins at Albany.

“The sense of community surrounding UAlbany has really impressed me, and I look forward to having my family be a part of it,” added Gattuso.

Throughout both his playing and coaching career, Gattuso boasts a long history of exceptional success. As a defensive lineman at Penn State, Gattuso helped lead the Nittany Lions to a national title in 1982. In his first collegiate head-coaching role, Gattuso piloted Duquesne to a 97-32 record during his 12-season tenure, and while making three bowl appearances at Pittsburgh, he turned the defensive line into one of the best in the nation as an assistant head coach and hauled in a top-10 recruiting class.

Gattuso comes to UAlbany after spending three seasons as a member Randy Edsall’s University of Maryland coaching staff. There, he led the defensive line that ranked among the top in the ACC and was promoted to the position of assistant head coach in February 2012.

During his tenure with the Terrapins, Gattuso developed current New England Patriot Joe Vellano into an NFL-ready defensive lineman, as Vellano earned All-America and All-ACC honors. In addition, Gattuso tutored All-ACC defensive lineman A.J. Francis, who signed with the Miami Dolphins at the conclusion of his collegiate career.

He spent the six prior years (2005-10) at Pittsburgh, where he turned the Panthers’ defensive line into one of the team’s major strengths. The line was one of the top sack producers in the nation, as Brandon Lindsey (10.0) and Jabaal Sheard (9.0) both ranked in the top 20 nationally in sacks during the 2010 regular season and Pittsburgh led the nation in that category in 2009 (3.6 per game). Gattuso developed three Big East Defensive Player of the Year winners, as Sheard received the honor in 2010, and defensive linemen Greg Romeus and Mick Williams shared the award in 2009.

Gattuso initially joined the Pitt staff as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator in 2005. In his first season, he helped the Panthers sign a recruiting class rated 10th in the nation by Scout.com, 16th by ESPN.com and 21st by Rivals.com. He began coaching the defensive line in 2006 and was promoted to assistant head coach in 2008. Scout.com named Gattuso the Big East Recruiter of the Year in 2007. During his tenure, The Panthers logged a 26-12 overall record, a 15-6 mark in the Big East, and appeared in three bowl games.

Before Pitt, Gattuso had a successful 12-year stint (1993-2004) as head coach at Duquesne University where he built the Dukes into one of the most elite I-AA football programs in the nation. The winningest coach in school history, the Dukes went 97-32 (.752) under his direction, won eight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) titles, made five bowl appearances, and captured the 2003 Mid-Major Division I-AA national championship.

The Western Pennsylvania native was twice named the national Mid-Major I-AA Coach of the Year and was a seven-time MAAC Coach of the Year. The Dukes dominated the conference during his tenure, going 66-7 (.904) in league play, including a 33-game winning streak.

Gattuso was an assistant coach at Duquesne in 1992 before taking over the head coaching post the following year.

From 1989-1991, he served as head coach at his high school alma mater, Seton-LaSalle. Taking over a team that went 6-34 during the four seasons prior to his arrival, Gattuso led the Rebels to a 28-10-1 mark (.731), including three WPIAL playoff berths, a WPIAL championship and Parkway Conference title.

During his playing career, Gattuso was named the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Class AA Player of the Year his senior season at Seton-LaSalle and was a two-time All-East defensive lineman at Penn State. He was a member of the Lions’ 1982 national title team and graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in administration and criminal justice.

Gattuso and his wife Colleen have two daughters, Jacqueline (26) and Kaitlin (21).

Gattuso will take over a program that has only known one other coach – Bob Ford. Ford started a club team in 1970 and led the Great Danes through all three NCAA Divisions. Ford announced in August that the 2013 season would be his last after 44 seasons at the helm.

“I feel it is important that Coach Ford remains engaged and a part of the program,” said Gattuso.

Still transitioning to the 63-scholarship level, Gattuso will inherit a UAlbany squad that went 1-11 overall in 2013 in their first season in the CAA.

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