Thursday, January 10, 2008

*OPINION PIECE* No. 4 Greatest Coach in Duquesne Athletics History

Dan McCann, Football - Although his greatest coaching accomplishments at Duquesne University came as the head of a club football program, "The Big Guy" Dan McCann belongs no lower than this spot on a countdown of Duquesne's greatest coaches.
  McCann was hired to lead Dukes Football beginning with the 1970 season -- shortly after a group of Duquesne students (led by student Sam Costanzo) put together a collection of Duquesne gridders in 1969.
  The school had not fielded a football team since the sport made a minor comeback at Duquesne (1947-1950) after its World War II hiatus.
  McCann wasted little time with his group of dedicated student-athletes, quickly turning the program into a serious contender for the National Club Football Association (NCFA) championship. In just his first year at the helm (1970), McCann landed Duquesne a No. 15 national ranking at its club level and even used his Pittsburgh-area connections to start grabbing the Dukes a few home games at prestigious Three Rivers Stadium.
  In fact, it was at Three Rivers that McCann and the Dukes -- fresh off of 7-1-0 and No. 3-ranked season in 1972, capped an undefeated and untied 1973 season (10-0-0) with a 13-7 win over Mattatuck Community College in the NCFA title game. The 1973 Dukes have since been inducted into the Duquesne Athletics Hall of Fame.
  Far from done, McCann coached Dukes Football to four more top-seven rankings from 1974-1978, including a runner-up finish at the NCFA title game in 1977.
  In 1979, McCann oversaw Duquesne's venture into varsity football at the NCAA Division III level. He stuck around until 1983 before handing over head coaching duties to one of his former players in 1984 -- Terry Russell.
  But McCann did eventually come back, head coaching the team again from 1988-1992, long enough to finish his career at Duquesne with 91 wins, which stood as a record until 1993 replacement Greg Gattuso broke the mark in 2004.
  It was indeed 1993 -- the end of the second McCann term -- that Duquesne moved up another level of college football, this time to NCAA Division I-AA.
  Neither that move, nor Duquesne's current move into I-AA scholarship football in 2008, would ever be possible without Sam Costanzo and the 1960s-1970s club football Dukes... and of course, their leader Dan McCann.

(Image: Duquesne University 1992 Football Media Guide, Copyright Duquesne University)

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