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Great Article on Akron Head Coach Rob Ianello- Stepinac Alum

Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010 by Lohud.com
 

Craziness has just begun for Ianello

 Port Chester native and Stepinac graduate Rob Ianello has the
            challenge of building up the Zips
            as their head coach.


 
Port Chester native and Stepinac graduate Rob Ianello has the challenge of building up the Zips as their head coach. (Scott Horstman)


BY SAM BORDEN • JOURNAL NEWS COLUMNIST • JANUARY 2, 2010

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So, you think you know about busy weeks? Sure you do. We all think we do. But how about this week, back in early December, that Rob Ianello had? Monday, Dec. 7: As acting head coach of the Notre Dame football team, Ianello is in the Bay Area on a recruiting trip. Charlie Weis was fired a week ago, and Ianello, who grew up in Port Chester, was moved from his position as assistant head coach to interim head coach while the Irish search for Weis' replacement.

  

 

Ianello has always been a strong recruiter, and the offseason is a time for him to shine. When he was an undergrad at Catholic University — Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who also went there, was one of his good friends — Ianello would visit Westchester high schools on winter breaks and talk to coaches in a sort of self-made internship. He's just always liked talking to people. "It sounds trite, but I just enjoy it," he says, and even though he knew he wasn't going to get the Notre Dame job full time, he treated it "as though I was going to be there for 10 years," he says. "I had the kids in the weight room, I was dealing with academic issues and I was out recruiting. I didn't know what the future was going to bring but I was going to do that job the best I could."

 

 

 

The future may be arriving. Ianello finishes the day by taking the red-eye to Atlanta, where he meets with officials from the University of Akron about the vacant head-coaching job. It would be his first (non-interim) head-coaching job but there are no guarantees. Tuesday, Dec. 8: After a quick nap, Ianello does the Akron interview at 9:30 a.m. Then, since he's still working for Notre Dame, he flies to Minneapolis for another recruiting trip. Before going to sleep in his hotel room that night, he hears from his agent that he is at the top of Akron's list. He is excited, but nervous.

 

 

"I played midget football, Pop Warner, at Harbor Island in Mamaroneck," he says. "I've had a football season since I was 8 years old. ... When I was in high school, I watched extra film. ... I mean, this is what I've always wanted to do."

Craziness has just begun for Ianello

 

 
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Wednesday, Dec. 9: While in the middle of a visit at a Minneapolis high school, Ianello's phone rings. It's the call. The Akron job is his if he wants it — and he wants it. He's told that there's a flight that leaves in an hour and a half and, if he can be on it, he can meet the Akron president that afternoon.

 

 

"I got off the phone, shook the high school coach's hand and said, 'I gotta go,' " Ianello says. "I made the flight."

 

 

 

He had dinner with the Akron president and several members of the Board of Trustees that night. Thursday, Dec. 10: Ianello is introduced as Akron's new head coach. During his opening remarks, he tells the assembled media that "I can't wait to get to work with (the players) as we move forward and start building."

 

 

Ianello has a few quick meetings, takes some pictures and then heads right back to the airport; he still has one Notre Dame obligation to address. A private plane picks him in Akron — "that was such a great thing for Notre Dame to do," he says — and takes him to Florida, where he represents the Irish coaching staff as Notre Dame wideout Golden Tate wins the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver. Friday, Dec. 11: Back in South Bend, Ianello cleans out his office. He also has a chance to watch former Cincinnati coach BrianKelly be introduced as the new Notre Dame coach, and run the gamut of media requests and first team meetings that he did a day earlier. Ianello's cell phone has become useless. "The messages basically overloaded it," he says. "It seemed like everyone called from all over the country. So many coaches — it meant a lot to me."

 

 

He has already begun to make lists. People to call. Meetings to take. Coaches to interview as possible assistants. Recruits to target. The to-do pile is endless: Academic concerns. Compliance. Equipment issues. Uniforms. Alumni.

 

 

"Most people would put me in the highly organized category — maybe a little anal," he says. "Though if you saw my desk right now you might not think that."

 

 

Saturday, Dec. 12: Ianello spends some time with his family and ponders what has happened over the past week. He has dreamed about this forever and now, suddenly, it is real.

 

 

"My (athletic director) put it right to me," Ianello says. "He said: 'You're inches away from that chair but yet you're miles away.' And it's true. The biggest difference is that you're no longer making suggestions — you're making decisions."

 

 

Sunday, Dec. 13: Ianello makes one final pass through his Notre Dame office. Drops off his University car. Goes out to the airport to pick up a rental. A week that began in Georgia will finish in Ohio, Ianello's life having been turned upside down along the way.

 

 

He was an assistant at Alabama, Arizona, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, and now — finally — he is a head coach. He points the car toward Akron and starts driving.

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Wednesday, Dec. 9: While in the middle of a visit at a Minneapolis high school, Ianello's phone rings. It's the call. The Akron job is his if he wants it — and he wants it. He's told that there's a flight that leaves in an hour and a half and, if he can be on it, he can meet the Akron president that afternoon.

 

 

"I got off the phone, shook the high school coach's hand and said, 'I gotta go,' " Ianello says. "I made the flight."

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He had dinner with the Akron president and several members of the Board of Trustees that night. Thursday, Dec. 10: Ianello is introduced as Akron's new head coach. During his opening remarks, he tells the assembled media that "I can't wait to get to work with (the players) as we move forward and start building."

 

 

Ianello has a few quick meetings, takes some pictures and then heads right back to the airport; he still has one Notre Dame obligation to address. A private plane picks him in Akron — "that was such a great thing for Notre Dame to do," he says — and takes him to Florida, where he represents the Irish coaching staff as Notre Dame wideout Golden Tate wins the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver. Friday, Dec. 11: Back in South Bend, Ianello cleans out his office. He also has a chance to watch former Cincinnati coach BrianKelly be introduced as the new Notre Dame coach, and run the gamut of media requests and first team meetings that he did a day earlier. Ianello's cell phone has become useless. "The messages basically overloaded it," he says. "It seemed like everyone called from all over the country. So many coaches — it meant a lot to me."

 

 

He has already begun to make lists. People to call. Meetings to take. Coaches to interview as possible assistants. Recruits to target. The to-do pile is endless: Academic concerns. Compliance. Equipment issues. Uniforms. Alumni.

 

 

"Most people would put me in the highly organized category — maybe a little anal," he says. "Though if you saw my desk right now you might not think that."

 

 

Saturday, Dec. 12: Ianello spends some time with his family and ponders what has happened over the past week. He has dreamed about this forever and now, suddenly, it is real.

 

 

"My (athletic director) put it right to me," Ianello says. "He said: 'You're inches away from that chair but yet you're miles away.' And it's true. The biggest difference is that you're no longer making suggestions — you're making decisions."

 

 

Sunday, Dec. 13: Ianello makes one final pass through his Notre Dame office. Drops off his University car. Goes out to the airport to pick up a rental. A week that began in Georgia will finish in Ohio, Ianello's life having been turned upside down along the way.

 

 

He was an assistant at Alabama, Arizona, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, and now — finally — he is a head coach. He points the car toward Akron and starts driving.

 

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Reach Sam Borden at sborden@lohud.com.

 
 

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