Huskies find gem in Verducci. Father is driving force behind the new offensive boss.
New UConn offensive coordinator Frank Verducci talks with Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant on Wednesday as the media met with the Huskies assistant football coaches.
STORRS: His eyes started to well up when he spoke of what his father had sacrificed in order for his children to have a better life.
Frank Verducci was introduced to the media as the new offensive coordinator for the UConn Huskies football team earlier this week and spoke extensively about the man he credits with making him the man and coach he is today.
“My dad’s a much better story than I am,” Verducci said. “You talk about everyday heroes and that’s what my dad was. I’ll get a little emotional talking about it and he’s been gone for twenty some odd years. All I ever wanted to be was like my dad and it wasn’t until I went out recruiting into other people’s homes that I saw the hurdles that these kids had to overcome when they either didn’t have a male figure in their house or the male figure wasn’t very strong or whatever that I realized how really lucky I was.”
His father, Tony raised eight children and made sure each of them had the opportunity to get a college education even if it meant he would not take a football position at a bigger high school or college for that matter.
“To raise eight children on a parochial school teacher’s salary,” Verducci said, “To me, that’s heroic. To see how my brothers and sisters have turned out is a tribute to my dad and my mom.”
His father coached football at Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey and his program was named the Program of the Century by the Bergen Record, the state’s largest newspaper and his coaching career spanned 36 years.
Sacrifice was part of what made his father so special to him.
“You talk about heroic,” Verducci said, “He had opportunities for other jobs and for assistant coaches jobs at colleges but he wanted to keep his family in a stable environment and we had a deal where as long as he taught at Seton Hall, his children could go to Seton Hall University for free. So for a guy making $20,000 a year on a teacher’s salary to have his kids education paid for, that’s the definition of unselfish. He pulled the reigns in on his own career so that his kids could have an opportunity.”
He talked of what his dad passed down to him from his childhood.
“The passion for it,” Verducci said, “As a little kid my memories of myself and my brothers sitting in the dining room while he had the game film on the projector. You know as a little kid, you think it’s a motion picture that it’s just going to run and here he is, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and as kids we would be like, dad, come on, I want to see if he caught the ball or not.”
Verducci played for his father and then later was able to coach with his father and his dad’s ability to see things before they happened was something he never forgot.
“He had an uncanny way of knowing what was coming,” Verducci said. “He’d call out a fake punt on the sidelines and sure enough, fake punt, minus four (yards) or they would get into a formation and he’d call out the play and bang, he was a defensive coach.”
How good was his dad’s coaching career?
While winning over 300 games, 100 of them where by the way of the shutout.
When the opportunity at UConn arose, his ties to head coach Bob Diaco was a huge factor, he considers his relationship with second year head coach to be one of family, one of brothers.
What was the deciding factor?
“I was very interested in the opportunity, first and foremost because of Bobby (Diaco), Verducci said, “And then when I came here, I walked in to the building (The Burton) and said, wow what a great facility. But then I met the coaching staff and it just clicked. I mean, I have the opportunity to work with three former coordinators, so the resources there for me are just tremendous. It gives me a chance to be as good as I can be. Then I met the kids and the kids all want to be good so you mix all those things together and there’s no doubt that I consider myself an optimist anyway, but being a realist as well, you look at the resources we have and if we can develop the relationships, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be successful.”
Everybody knows the challenges that the new offensive coordinator faces in Storrs, no need to rehash it but what Verducci is banking on is that this football family can do what strong families do when times are not the best.
They band together towards a common goal and don’t stop until they hit their mark.
With his years of coaching at every level, including 11 years as a NFL assistant coach, Verducci and the newly mixed coaching staff may just have what it takes to turn things around on the gridiron.
Sweat music for Huskie fans.