ELON, N.C. – Elon University Director of Athletics Dave Blank introduced Tony Trisciani as the 23rd head coach in the history of the Elon football program Monday afternoon, Dec. 17, inside of the Walker Room in Alumni Field House.
Over the past two seasons, Trisciani helped lead the Phoenix to back-to-back FCS Playoff berths for the first time in program history, with Elon holding a consistent position in national rankings. Trisciani assumes the head coaching position with 23 years of coaching experience – including 13 years at CAA football programs. Throughout his career, he has won championships, lead the nation in multiple defensive categories, and coached numerous all-conference and All-America student-athletes.
This is Trisciani’s second coaching stint at Elon; in 2006 he was a defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator. Trisciani returned to Elon ahead of the 2017 campaign and has helped the Phoenix defeat six top-25 programs over the last two seasons. The signature victory was the Oct. 6 defeat of No. 2 James Madison in its home stadium, a game in which Trisciani’s defense held the Dukes running game to just 103 rushing yards.
Below is a transcript from the news conference:
Head Football Coach Tony Trisciani
I am so proud to be the head football coach at Elon University. I would like to thank President Book, our Provost Dr. Steven House, our AD Coach Blank, and the rest of the administration for the opportunity to lead our football program and student-athletes.
During my tenure, I’ve watched our players and staff fully commit to a culture of excellence both on the field and in the classroom and I’m excited and eager to continue what we’ve started together. Like Coach said, I come from a football family, so I was trained to play and coach football since I was born. I’ve played and coached in a lot of football games, but today is by far the greatest day in my football career.
I want to thank my wife, Julie. She’s my biggest fan, the love of my life. If you haven’t met her, you will. She’s part of the family and she’s all in.
I’d like to thank Coach Cignetti. For everything he’s done for us over the past two years to transform our football program, we wouldn’t be where we are now without him and he wouldn’t be at JMU without us.
Our administration did an unbelievable job getting this done in 48 hours. It shows their commitment to our players, to our staff, and to our fan base. It speaks volumes about their continued dedication to our program and to compete for championships. At the end of the day, I believe this transition will bring our team closer. When our players return to campus on January 2, we’re going to focus on the day-to-day. It’s a process. They’re going to get in the weight room with Coach DiMarco and continue with our offseason program. My first priority will be to secure this recruiting class and put a staff together that will help us continue our winning tradition here at Elon. The bottom line is we’re going to continue to recruit talented student-athletes who have high character and a passion for football. And I’m going to look for those same qualities in our staff. Together, we’ll continue to hold our kids to the high standards and expectations of our program and provide a source of pride for the entire Elon community.
We’ve got five coaches in the room here today who have chosen to stay here with me. And we’ve got 257 days until we line up over in Greensboro against North Carolina A&T. I look forward to seeing our entire Elon football family, our alums, our fan base, and our tailgaters at 7 a.m. But I’m really looking forward to the next few days. It’s going to be one day at a time and it’s a process and we’re going to focus on getting better every day. Thank you all so much for coming here.
Inquiries from fans and media…
Crowd: Early commits: How does it sound?
Answer: We’ve secured the commitments that we have. The kids that I’ve spoken to are excited about the decision. They are with us. I haven’t had the chance to speak with all of them yet. It’s difficult during the day when they’re in school and in class to get them on the cell phone from this morning’s announcement. We feel really good about the class.
C: Who has had great influences on his style?
A: I’m very fortunate, I’ve work with some great football coaches. It started at my alma mater at Springfield College with Mike DeLong. He was there for 31 years. I learned commitment. I learned how to be a teacher from him. He was there when I grew up from a young man until an adult. And then, really, I went to the University of New Hampshire, Bill Bowes was the head coach. He was at the University of New Hampshire for 29 years, he had one losing season. Sean McDonnell took over next year. Coach McDonnell has been doing it ever since there. At the University of New Hampshire, I learned a lot about how doing more with less and a blue collar attitude. I learned a lot from those guys up there at New Hampshire. Chip Kelly was on that staff as well in my first job coaching the running backs with him, learned a lot. From there I joined Pete Lembo. I learned a lot about organizational skills, a lot about being a forward thinker, being organized, managing a football team, recruiting. Came from Lehigh to here with him and got to for the first time get planted here at Elon and start to learn what this place is all about. Coach Andy Talley, 32 years at Villanova. Again, commitment. I learned a lot about him, building relationships, recruiting. He was a servant leader – it was all about the staff making sure the staff had everything they needed to do and held them accountable to it. I’ve been very fortunate to have some great mentors in my professional career.
C: On assistant coaches either staying with or joining the program.
A: Drew Folmar is our offensive coordinator and he’s going to continue to be our offensive coordinator. Matt Merritt is our running backs coach and special teams coordinator. Clay Browning is our tight ends coach and Dillon Lucas will continue to be an assistant on the defensive side of the ball. As far as speaking for the future hires of this staff, like I said, I’m looking for guys who are talented as football coaches – guys who are teachers because that’s important. We need to continue to develop our student-athletes and that’s where we are going to have success here at Elon. It’s not going to be in the transfer market, it’s not going to be bringing freshman in and playing a bunch of freshman every year. You know, for us to really have success and win championships here, we’ve got to be able to develop our players. We’ve got to have competition inside the program and develop those guys. So, I’m looking for coaches that are talented, guys who are teachers, guys who have high character and guys who are passionate about football.
C: On his plan on the defensive side of the ball.
A: My plan is to keep our scheme the same – keep our terminology the same. There’s people in my coaching tree that I’m familiar with and that’s the direction I’m planning to go. In the end, could I end up calling the defense? Possibly. I’ll do what’s best for our football program and our kids, but we’ve come too far here in the last two years. Our kids they don’t need to be learning new terminology and new techniques. Some of them will be hearing a different voice, but they’ll be hearing the same message and same techniques. We need to continue to get better.
Q: On what it means to be a college head coach for the first time.
A: It’s a lifelong dream to stand up here and be there head coach and lead our kids and our staff. So you don’t know when it’s supposed to come. You just got to be prepared and I’ve been preparing for this my whole life. You never know when it’s going to come. You get those moments where you think it might be around the corner and then it’s not. I haven’t gone after any head coaching jobs. It needs to be the right job. This is the right job. This is the right time. I’m ready, I’m prepared and I’m anxious about it.