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Danny Rocco

Head Football Coach

College: Wake Forest ('84)
Start Date: 12/02/2005
Email: lufootball@liberty.edu

A new era in the history of the Liberty University football program began on December 2, 2005, as Chancellor and Founder Dr. Jerry Falwell addressed an assembled group of media and boosters gathered in the Grand Lobby of the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center on the early winter day.
The announcement brought excitement back to a once strong athletic program as Dr. Falwell publicly named former Virginia associate head coach Danny Rocco as Liberty's new head football coach, making Rocco the seventh head coach in the history of the program.
"Danny Rocco is a perfect fit for Liberty University in every way. Liberty is fortunate to have him," stated Dr. Falwell. "I firmly believe Danny Rocco can lead Liberty in reaching its goal of becoming a dominant Division I-AA program within the near future."
Rocco brings over 22 years of football coaching experience to a program that he is quite familiar with as he has been an outside observer with a vested interest for years. Rocco has family ties to both Liberty University and the greater Lynchburg area that have enabled him to watch Liberty from a distance.
Rocco's father and brother both served on the staff at Liberty during the last six years as Frank Rocco, Sr., was the program's Director of Football Operations during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Frank Rocco, Jr., also joined the staff in 2000 as a wide receivers/quarterbacks coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator before leaving in 2003.
Two of the three Rocco brothers have been reunited of sorts now as Frank, Jr., now serves as head football coach and athletic director across the Liberty campus at Liberty Christian Academy, the K-12 school associated with Thomas Road Baptist Church.
Completing the family circle, the final Rocco brother, Dave, is located just 60 miles north of Lynchburg at Staunton River High School in Moneta, Va., where he serves as head football coach.
So, to say that Rocco has had a vested interest in Liberty and the greater Lynchburg area over the last several years might be an understatement.
"I've been following the program for many years, and I've been waiting for Liberty to have a breakthrough year," commented Rocco. "For whatever reason, that hasn't happened yet, but I know the potential and the talent is here for it to happen."
"I took this job knowing that they were coming off a disappointing 1-10 season," continued Rocco. "However, I've never looked at the program as a 1-10 program. That in and of itself has allowed me to come in with a more positive approach as we try and turn this thing around."
Rocco now stands on the verge of his first head coaching position in his 22-year coaching career with a resume that includes stops at several of the top Division I-A programs in the country.
In addition to his experience at the Division 1-A level, he spent the 2000 season on Al Groh's staff as an assistant coach with the New York Jets. Rocco has either coached or played in a total of 13 bowl games and has earned the title of conference champion on three separate occasions.
Prior to coming to Liberty, Rocco spent the past five seasons at the University of Virginia, helping the Cavaliers to four-consecutive bowl appearances and 37 victories since joining Al Groh's coaching staff in 2001.
Virginia posted back-to-back Continental Tire Bowl victories in 2002 and 2003 with wins over 15th-ranked West Virginia and Pittsburgh, while dropping an overtime decision to Fresno State in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl.
Rocco returned to Virginia prior to the 2005 Music City Bowl to help Coach Al Groh lead the Cavaliers to a victory over Minnesota. Rocco was named assistant head coach/linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator in January 2001.
The Cavaliers' 2002 recruiting class was ranked in the Top 10 nationally by many of the major recruiting services, including a fifth-place ranking by ESPN. Rocco relinquished his recruiting duties in 2002 and was promoted to the position of associate head coach, while continuing his responsibility of linebackers coach.
In 2004, three Cavaliers' linebackers signed NFL contracts as Darryl Blackstock was selected in the third round of the NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals, while Dennis Haley (Jets) and Isaiah Ekejiuba (Arizona) signed as free agents.
Rocco began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Wake Forest University. He spent the 1984 and 1985 seasons as a graduate assistant before being hired as the defensive line coach prior to the 1986 season.
Rocco was then hired by Bill McCartney at the University of Colorado as an assistant linebackers coach for the 1987 season. He spent the next three seasons at the University of Tulsa where they competed in the 1989 Independence Bowl.
Rocco spent the 1991-93 seasons working for Tom Coughlin as his defensive line coach at Boston College. Rocco helped Coach Coughlin bring Boston College's program back to national prominence.
In 1992, Boston College played in the Hall of Fame Bowl followed by a trip to the Carquest Bowl in 1993. Rocco then left Boston College to join John Mackovic's staff at the University of Texas at Austin.
While at Texas, the Longhorns put together three-consecutive conference championships, including the inaugural Big 12 title in 1996. Texas also competed in three-straight bowl games (Sun Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl).
Rocco went from Texas to the University of Maryland where he served as linebackers coach for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. After the 1999 season, Rocco rejoined his mentor Al Groh with the New York Jets.
Rocco spent the 2000 season in New York as an assistant linebacker/special teams coach, before following Al Groh to Virginia for the 2001-05 seasons.
Rocco began his college playing career as a scholarship athlete at Penn State University. Rocco earned two varsity letters at Penn State, and he participated in the 1979 Liberty Bowl and the 1980 Fiesta Bowl. He then transferred to Wake Forest University where he was a two-year starter and senior captain for Al Groh.
While at Wake Forest, Rocco participated in the 1983 Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Japan. In 1984, Rocco graduated from Wake Forest with a bachelor's degree in speech communication. He completed a 56-hour education and counseling master's curriculum from Wake Forest in 1987.
Rocco grew up in a football family as his father served as an assistant coach at Penn State under legendary hall of fame football head coach Joe Paterno before joining Liberty's staff in 2000.
Rocco has been an active participant in the community since arriving in Lynchburg.  He is a member of the Lynchburg Sports Club as well as the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has been a member of the Virginia High School Coaches Association since the spring of 2001.
The native of Huntington, Pa., is married to the former Julie Mills and the couple has two children - David (15) and Amy (13).
 
Rocco's Coaching Experience
2005-Present - Liberty (head coach)
2003-05 - Virginia (associate head coach/linebackers)
2001-02 - Virginia (assistant head coach/linebackers/recruiting coordinator)
2000 - New York Jets (assistant linebackers/special teams)
1998-99 - Maryland (outside linebackers/assistant special teams)
1997 - Texas (special teams coordinator/defensive ends)
1994-96 - Texas (outside linebackers)
1991-93 - Boston College (defensive line)
1988-90 - Tulsa (outside linebackers)
1987 - Colorado (assistant linebackers)
1986 - Wake Forest (defensive line)
1984-85 - Wake Forest (defensive graduate assistant)
 
Bowl Games As A Player
1983 - Mirage Bowl (Wake Forest)
1980 - Fiesta Bowl (Penn State)
1979 - Liberty Bowl (Penn State)
 
Bowl Games As A Coach
2005 - Music City Bowl (Virginia)
2004 - MPC Computers Bowl (Virginia)
2003 - Continental Tire Bowl (Virginia)
2002 - Continental Tire Bowl (Virginia)
1996 - Fiesta Bowl (Texas)
1995 - Sugar Bowl (Texas)
1994 - Sun Bowl (Texas)
1993 - Carquest Bowl (Boston College)
1992 - Hall of Fame Bowl (Boston College)
1989 - Independence Bowl (Tulsa)
 
Championships Won
1996 - Big XII Conference (Texas)
1995 - Southwest Conference (Texas)
1994 - Southwest Conference (Texas)