Succeeding Bob Ford as only the second head coach of the Albany football program might seem like a daunting task. But Greg Gattuso has some experience to lean on.
Gattuso, Maryland's defensive line coach for the past three years, previously worked for 12 seasons as the head coach at Duquesne.
Gattuso said his biggest challenge is building a connection between the players and coaches, six of whom are new to the Great Danes.
“I have no idea how our guys are going to respond to our coaches and how we do things,” Gattuso said during the recent Colonial Athletic Association media day. “I think they’re excited about change, but there is a little unknown there. How we all mesh is going to be really important, and it’s not just a players thing. It’s a coaches thing, too. You have a new coaching dynamic not just with the kids, but also with our staff. Even though I’m good friends with a multitude of the coaches, they have not all worked together. So you’ve got a lot of people who are blending right now, and that’s going to be one of my focuses.”
Gattuso has the unenviable assignment of replacing Ford, who became the Albany coach in 1970. Under Ford, the Great Danes went 265-191-1.
But Gattuso has his own credentials. He is still the winningest coach ever at Duquesne with a 97-32 record, and the school won eight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles with him in charge.
Gattuso said he enjoyed his time with coach Randy Edsall and the Terps and that he misses his family’s home in Columbia and access to crab cakes. But he said the timing was right for him to become a head coach again.
“I’ve wanted to be a head coach and run my own program,” he said. “So the opportunity came at a good time for me and my family. We thought Albany was a great place for us, and there’s nothing that has disappointed me so far. So we’re excited about it and we’re excited about getting to camp and getting it going.”
Moving from three seasons with Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference to the CAA might seem like a step down, but Gattuso said the intensity in both leagues is the same.
“It’s a brutal conference,” he said of the CAA. "The depth of good teams in this conference is amazing. You just don’t see different conference champions every year. It’s hard to get on a roll, and you don’t see a team win it five years in a row. It’s a very hard conference to come out of, and I think that’s the funnest part of this. The depth of the quality, the great coaching staffs, the traditional programs, it’s going to be challenging, but it’s going to be fun.”