VMI Athletics announced its new head football coach Dec. 3 with the hiring of Danny Rocco as the 33rd head coach in Keydet football history.
Rocco brings a decorated coaching history with him to Lexington, with experience at the FBS and FCS level, as well as the NFL. A six-time national coach of the year finalist, Rocco has won seven conference championships—four Big South and three CAA—in his 16 years at the helm. Some of Rocco’s other accolades include five FCS playoff appearances, four Big South Conference Championships, three Colonial Athletic Association Championships, 10 top-25 finishes, and 12 seasons with seven or more wins while coaching 42 All-Americans.
“Coach Rocco has had a great deal of success at every level leading his teams both on and off the field,” stated Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent. “He is clearly someone who believes in developing his players into leaders of character, in perfect alignment with VMI’s mission. I look forward to the future success that our cadet-athletes will enjoy from his leadership.”
Jim Miller, VMI director of intercollegiate athletics, said, “it is a privilege to welcome Danny to Lexington. I have seen his success firsthand and believe he will bring that winning tradition with him here to VMI.”
“It’s an honor to be here; it’s a great opportunity for me and my family,” Rocco said. “I’m very appreciative of General Wins and his support and Jim Miller, who I worked for at Richmond. I’m at an institution that has a great history and a proud history. They play in a really good conference. I’m familiar with the SoCon, having been an FCS head coach for 16 seasons. First and foremost, I want to get to meet the cadet-athletes; I want to be able to get to know them and make a positive impact in their lives as we work together to win football games and adhere to our core values.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Rocco comes to VMI after helping Pennsylvania State University to a 10-2 record as a defensive senior analyst this season. Rocco has been a head coach for three prominent FCS programs in Delaware from 2017–21, Richmond from 2012–16, and Liberty from 2006–11. Rocco guided each school to multiple top-25 finishes, twice reaching the FCS Semifinals in 2014 and 2020.
Prior to his head coaching gigs, some of Rocco’s stops as an assistant included the New York Jets, the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas. Rocco got his coaching start at the place he finished his playing career, Wake Forest. Playing his first two years at Penn State, Rocco transferred to Wake Forest, graduating in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and rhetoric and adding a master’s degree in education and counseling in 1987.
Rocco and his wife, Julie, are the proud parents of David and Amy. David currently serves as an offensive analyst at Penn State.
Editor’s Note: This story first appeared at vmikeydets.com.