By Erica Brancato
Frank Verducci, the new offensive coordinator for the UConn football team, has been exposed to great coaching his whole life.
Within his family, he grew up around several uncles and his father who were all accomplished coaches. He was able to piece together parts of their philosophies and create his own way of coaching to be successful in his 31 years in both college and professional football.
Verducci’s father Tony was the legendary head football coach at Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange, N.J., while his uncle was Gil Hodges – one of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ “Boys Of Summer” and the manager of the 1969 Miracle Mets.
Coaching continues in this generation of Verduccis with his brother Tony as the head football coach at Bishop Ireton HS in Alexandria, Va. Frank’s other brother Tom is an award-winning baseball writer for Sports Illustrated and appears on the MLB Network.
Frank Verducci himself brings a wide variety of experience to UConn. He started his career in the college ranks, including a long tenure at Iowa (1985-86, 1989-98) and stops at Colorado State, Maryland, Northern Illinois and Northwestern. In recent years, he also coached at Notre Dame (2009) and Florida (2011).
From 1999-2008, he coached in the NFL working with the Bengals, Cowboys, Bills and the Browns. While with the Cowboys in 2002, his offensive line paved the way for Emmitt Smith to break to the all-time NFL rushing record while he developed a pair of All-Pro left tackles in Joe Thomas with the Browns (2007 and ’08) and Jason Peters in Buffalo in 2004 and ’05.
“Like in any other business, everything is timing,” he said. “I would love to be here as long as it takes to get this place going and then some.”
Head coach Bob Diaco and Verducci have known each other for many years, as their relationship spans beyond UConn football. Verducci’s father coached a young Diaco in high school and made a huge impact in Diaco’s life.
Years later, Frank Verducci and Diaco met again, as Verducci recruited Diaco to play college football at Iowa.
“He was probably the most unique player I recruited in my 12 years I was at Iowa,” Verducci said. “Exactly what you see now, he was that at 17 years old. He was extremely focused. He was the only recruit I have ever had show up on an official visit in a suit and tie. He went five years and literally never missed a day of practice… and he just worked himself from one of the less heralded recruits to the MVP as a senior. He was top 10 in tackles and the history of the program there. He is truly a self-made man.”
Verducci said that the two have stayed in touch over the years and he had hoped at some point their paths would cross again and they would work together. Both Verducci and Diaco share the same values and work ethic, as the new offensive coordinator says he is thrilled to help carry Diaco’s vision for the program forward.
Since Diaco took over as head coach at UConn, he has stressed the importance of chemistry and brotherhood. Verducci is a great addition to further promote the foundation that Diaco and the Huskies have built so far.
“The same consistency I’m looking for in a player is what I’m trying to give them,” said Verducci. “It’s a two way street. When they come in the building everyday they should have an idea of what they are going to get from me. They are going to be challenged, but they are going to be challenged in a positive manner and I’m going to try to be the same person from a temperament standpoint everyday.”
Though Verducci understands the challenges the Huskies had last season on offense, he says he is more interested in moving forward. He said he is not involved in correcting the past - he is more focused on the fresh start.
“I learned in professional football that it’s not about who you were or what you can be, it’s about who you are right now and that’s what we are trying to do right now,” he said. “We are trying to evaluate where guys have come from, where they are now and where we want to get them to. I’d like for everybody who walks into the building to feel like they have a fresh start in this offense and that there is no pecking order in the offense.”