Through three seasons as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame, Rob Ianello has shown why he's one of the most respected assistant coaches in college football.
As a coach, he has helped develop three of the most prolific wide receivers in Irish history and also has looked out for the best interests of assistant coaches throughout the country as the chairman of the assistant coaches committee of the American Football Coaches Association. As a recruiting coordinator, Ianello has helped Notre Dame attain three consecutive top-10 recruiting classes since 2006, something only three other schools (USC, Florida, Georgia) can claim including a unanimous number-two class in `08.
Ianello, who came to Notre Dame following two seasons as tight ends coach at Wisconsin, has been a major contributor to Notre Dame's aerial success since 2005 as he developed a wide receivers corps that posted record numbers. Ianello played a crucial role in the two-most prolific passing offenses in Notre Dame history (330.2 yards per game in 2005 and 264.1 yards per game in 2006).
The spectacular performances of Rhema McKnight, Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall captivated Irish followers in 2005 and 2006. Both Samardzija and Stovall exceeded the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards and combined for 26 touchdowns in 2005, while Samardzija surpassed 1,000 receiving yards again in 2006 and McKnight finished with 907 yards in `06. Samardzija set school records for receiving yards in a season (1,249) and receiving TDs (15) while tying the school mark for catches in a season (77). He also became Notre Dame's career leader during the 2006 campaign in receptions (179), yards (2,593) and receiving TDs (26). Stovall posted sensational numbers in 2005 (69 catches for 1,149 yards and 11 TDs) as he recorded the second-most receiving yards in a single season in school history. In 2006, McKnight and Samardzija led the nation with 26 combined TD receptions by the tandem and rank first and second, respectively, on Notre Dame's career receptions list. McKnight also tied Samardzija's single-season school record with 15 TD receptions and McKnight ended his Notre Dame career tied for the second-most TD receptions and with the fourth-most receiving yards. Ianello also helped develop David Grimes in 2006 as he burst onto the scene and grabbed 26 passes for 336 yards with two TDs as Notre Dame's number-three wide receiver.
Ianello helped mold and develop a young but talented group of wide receivers in 2007. Freshmen and sophomores combined to make 18 starts in `07 and caught 88 passes for 1,021 yards with six TDs while Grimes - the lone upperclassman in the group - recorded a career-high 27 receptions for 224 yards and two TDs. Duval Kamara made some of the biggest strides in '07 and wound up setting a pair of freshman receiving records. Kamara had just five catches for 48 yards through the first four games but finished the season with 32 receptions for 357 yards and four TDs. His 32 catches broke Tim Brown's previous school record while the four receiving TDs were also the most ever by an Irish freshman. Kamara started five games for Notre Dame and had the second-most receptions and third-most receiving yards on the team. Robby Parris ranked second in receiving yards and third in receptions on the squad after posting 361 yards on 29 receptions. Parris made four starts in his first real action of his Irish career and led the team (minimum 12 receptions) by averaging 12.4 yards per catch. George West started seven contests and set career bests with 21 receptions for 172 yards while Golden Tate added 131 yards and a TD on six catches in his first season. In 1999, Ianello was named one of the top 10 recruiters in the nation by ESPN.com and one of the top six recruiters in the country by The Sporting News.
Ianello's acumen as a top recruiter was recognized once again in 2008 when Rivals.com ranked him as one of the top 25 college football recruiters in the nation for the fifth-consecutive year. Ianello was also included on Tom Lemming's (CBS College Sports) top 10 list for the third-straight year.
At Wisconsin, Ianello served as the Badgers' recruiting coordinator in 2004 and was named Wisconsin's tight ends coach prior to the 2003 season following nine years on the Arizona football staff - all nine seasons as recruiting coordinator (1994-2002) and the last six as wide receivers coach.
He helped the Badgers to postseason bowl contests in 2003 and 2004 - including a 7-6 record and Music City Bowl appearance following the 2003 campaign and a 9-3 mark and Outback Bowl slot in 2004. Wisconsin in 2004 won its first nine games (tying a Badger record for consecutive wins) and ranked fourth in both national polls at that point (its highest ranking since 2000).
Promoted to the position of Arizona's passing game coordinator just before coming to Wisconsin, Ianello coached 2002 Pacific-10 receiving leader Bobby Wade, who caught 93 passes for 1,389 yards and eight TDs. Wade teamed with Andrae Thurman for 154 catches in 2002, the most in Arizona history by a receiving duo. The Wildcats' 1998 squad was 12-1, finished as the Pac-10 runner-up, ranked fourth nationally and defeated Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. That team's offense was the first in Pac-10 history to register five straight games of 500 yards or more of total offense. Arizona's 1999 offense ranked first in the Pac-10 and third nationally (Dennis Northcutt caught 88 passes, then a school record) at 472.9 yards per game.
Ianello was the on-campus recruiting coordinator at Wisconsin from 1990-91 and the recruiting coordinator for the Badgers from 1992-93. It was during those years that Wisconsin built its 1994 Rose Bowl and Big Ten Conference co-champion squad (the Badgers finished fifth in the final 1993 CNN/USA Today poll). Prior to joining Barry Alvarez's first staff at Wisconsin, Ianello was assistant recruiting coordinator with head coach Bill Curry at Alabama in 1988-89 (the Crimson Tide shared the 1989 Southeastern Conference title and earned a Sugar Bowl berth). That staff signed 17 of the eventual 22 starters on Alabama's 1992 national championship team. Ianello was a graduate assistant for the Crimson Tide in 1987 on an Alabama team that earned a Hall of Fame Bowl invitation.
Ianello was elected to the board of trustees of the AFCA in January 2003 (the only assistant coach on the board). 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.
A native of Port Chester, N.Y, Robert S. Ianello 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 (6), and two daughters, Ashley (17-months) and Courtney (newborn). Denise is a former assistant women's basketball coach at Arizona and Wisconsin and is now a scout in the WNBA. Rob graduated from Stepinac HS in 1984.