Dec. 10, 2009
AKRON, Ohio – Rob Ianello, former assistant coach and interim head coach at Notre Dame, was named The University of Akron’s 26th head football coach – but just the sixth since 1960, UA president Dr. Luis Proenza and athletics director Tom Wistrcill announced Thursday afternoon at the Towpath Credit Union Press Level at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.
“We are extremely excited to name Rob Ianello as our new head football coach,” Wistrcill said. “Rob’s experience with some of the top programs in the country, coupled with his recruiting prowess, made him stand out among a great group of candidates. He demonstrated to us a clear plan on how to build a complete championship program – one that has been successfully tested at other University’s around the country – and we are excited to help him execute that plan. He will be a great leader for the young men on our football team and a great part of the Akron community.”
Promoted to assistant head coach for offense in January 2009, Ianello led Notre Dame’s offensive staff meetings when head coach Charlie Weis was not present, while retaining his role as wide receivers coach. Most recently, Ianello served as interim head football coach for the Fighting Irish.
“First I want to thank Dr. Proenza, Tom (Wistrcill) and the Akron community for this opportunity,” Ianello said. “My family and I are thrilled to be at Akron and excited about the opportunity to lead this program. My life-long dream has been to run a football program at the highest level and there is no place better to begin that journey than right now at The University of Akron. The future is very bright for the Zips football program.
This past year, the Irish featured one of the nation’s best quarterback-wide receiver tandems and one of the best in the tradition-rich history of Notre Dame. Signal caller Jimmy Clausen ranked second in the country in pass efficiency and eighth in total offense (302.25 avg.). He completed 289-of-425 passes – with his completion percentage of .680 being a school record. He additionally threw for 3,722 yards (second-most in Notre Dame history) and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
Clausen’s top target was Golden Tate. He had a school-record 93 receptions in 2009, with his 7.75 receptions per game ranking seventh in the NCAA, and tallied a school-record 1,496 yards, with is 124.67 ypg ranking third nationally. Tate finished sixth in the nation in scoring (9.0 ppg) thanks to his 15 receiving TDs, two rushing TDs and a punt return for a score.
Both Clausen and Tate are semifinalists for the 2009 Maxwell Award, presented annually to college’s best football player. Tate additionally was named first team All-American and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which is presented to the nation’s top collegiate wide receiver.
Notre Dame’s 2009 offense ranked sixth nationally in passing offense (323.50 ypg) and ninth in total offense (451.75 ypg).
A member of the Irish coaching staff since 2005, he has coached six of the most prolific receiving seasons in Notre Dame history as well as coordinated four-straight top 15 recruiting classes.
As the recruiting coordinator for the Irish, he directed three consecutive top 10 recruiting classes from 2006-08, something only three other schools (USC, Florida and Georgia) could claim. He is also the only coach named one of the 25-best recruiters in the country each of the last five years by Rivals.com. In the book “The Second Season” by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, Ianello is named one of the top 10 recruiters of the last 30 years.
Under his guidance, six of the nine best individual receiving seasons in Notre Dame history have occurred. In the past five seasons, four Irish receivers have caught more than 60 passes in a season, while five players have eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards.
Notre Dame’s records for most receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior have all been recorded under his watch. He has played a crucial role in helping the Irish record the three-most prolific passing seasons in school history.
In 2008, Tate and Michael Floyd rewrote the record book for freshman and sophomore receivers at Notre Dame. Tate tallied 58 receptions for 1,080 yards and 10 TDs while Floyd registered 48 catches for 719 yards and seven TDs. Notre Dame underclassmen combined to make 18 starts in 2007 and caught 88 passes for 1.021 yards and six TDs. Duval Kamara set freshman records (broken in ’08 by Floyd) for receptions and receiving yards in a season.
Jeff Samardzija, Maurice Stovall and Rhema McKnight captivated Irish fans in 2005-06. Samardzija set school records with 1,249 receiving yards and 15 TDs in ’05 and 77 receptions in ’06. His 179 career catches for 2,593 yards and 27 TDs are Irish records.
Stovall caught 69 passes for 1,149 yards and 11 TDs in ’05, the second-most receiving yards in a single season in school history. McKnight tied Samardzija’s school record with 15 receiving TDs in ’06 and the two combined to lead the nation with 27 receiving TDs.
He coached at Wisconsin for two years prior to joining Notre Dame and helped lead the Badgers to the 2003 Music City Bowl and 2005 Outback Bowl. While there, Ianello helped develop Owen Daniels from a recruited quarterback into a tight end. Daniels is now one of the top receiving tight ends in the NFL.
Ianello served as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach at Arizona and helped develop Bobby Wade and Dennis Northcutt. Wade led the Pacific-10 Conference with 93 receptions for 1,389 yards and eight TDs in 2002, while Northcutt caught 88 passes in 1999. Also in 1999, he was named one of the top 10 recruiters in the nation by ESPN.com and one of the top six recruiters nationally by Sporting News. The previous year with the Wildcats, he helped Arizona’s 1998 squad to a 12-1 record and number four national ranking.
He was elected to the board of trustees of the American Football Coaches Association in January 2003. The board formulates policy and provides direction for the AFCA. Ianello also chairs the AFCA’s assistant coaches committee and is the general chairman of the AFCA’s all-division assistant coaches committee.
Ianello was born Nov. 4, 1965, he is a native of Port Chester, N.Y., and is a 1987 graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. with a bachelor’s degree in English. He and his wife, the former Denise Dove, have one son, Zachary, and two daughters, Ashley and Courtney. Denise is a former assistant women’s basketball coach at Arizona and Wisconsin and is now a scout in the WNBA.
— ND —