Blue Hen football team fifth in CAA preseason poll as Rocco takes reins

Danny Rocco

BALTIMORE — Danny Rocco has been down this road before.

Twice before, the veteran college football coach has taken over programs coming off losing seasons.

And both times, at Liberty and Richmond, his squads posted winning records in his first year on the sidelines.

So Rocco feels a certain amount of comfort as he heads into his first season at Delaware. But he also says there are no quarantees in sports.

“I do believe that every transition is different, every team is different,” Rocco said in an online interview during CAA Media Day on Tuesday.

“You have to look at the makeup of your team and what kind of senior leadership you have, what kind of talent you have, what kind of depth you have. But I think we have a model in place that gives our student-athletes the best opportunity to be successful.”

The rest of the Colonial Athletic Association coaches seem to like Rocco’s chances of winning right away as they voted Delaware fifth in the preseason poll announced on Tuesday.

Not surprisingly, defending FCS national champion James Madison was named the preseason favorite, followed by Rocco’s former team, Richmond, Villanova, New Hampshire and then Delaware.

The Blue Hens have a large number of returning players from a squad that went just 4-7 a year ago. Coach Dave Brock was fired six games into the season.

Delaware hasn’t made the FCS playoffs since reaching the national championship game at the end of the 2010 campaign. The Hens haven’t finished with a winning record since 2013.

But Rocco said he doesn’t believe in being patient when it comes to getting the Hens turned around.

“I’ve told my team since the first day that I arrived at Delaware, we’re committed to winning this year,” he said on Tuesday. “I’m not looking to back into anything. Sometimes, for the coach, there’s decisions made that kind of back (the team) into success — because it makes the coach look good.

“But we’re committed to our seniors. Our seniors deserve to go out as winners. We’re going to do everything in our power to offer them the very best possible experience that we can — to give them the opportunity to experience the joy and the thrill of victory.”

Three Blue Hen seniors were named to the preseason all-CAA team: Center Brody Kern, linebacker Charles Bell and defensive lineman Bilal Nichols.

Delaware opens the season on Aug. 31 by hosting Delaware State.

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