Rick Forzano
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Rick Forzano
Rick Forzano
Biographical details
Born(1928-11-20)November 20, 1928
Akron, Ohio
DiedJanuary 10, 2019(2019-01-10) (aged 90)
Orlando, Florida
Alma materKent State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1951Kenmore HS (OH) (assistant)
1952Hower HS (OH) (assistant)
1953-1955Hower HS (OH)
1956Wooster (assistant)
1957-1958Kent State (assistant)
1959-1963Navy (assistant)
1966-1967St. Louis Cardinals (OB)
1968Cincinnati Bengals (OB)
1973Detroit Lions (assistant)
1974-1976Detroit Lions
Head coaching record
Overall17-43-1 (college)
15-17 (NFL)
10-14-1 (high school)

Richard Eugene Forzano (November 20, 1928 - January 10, 2019)[1] was an American football coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, most prominently as head coach of the National Football League's Detroit Lions from 1974 to 1976.[2]

Early life and career

Forzano was born November 20, 1928 in Akron, Ohio. He played football at Kenmore High School until he suffered a detached retina as a sophomore, which ended his playing days. He enlisted in the Marine Corps but was medically discharged as a result of the injury that left him with 20/400 vision in one eye.[3]

He enrolled at Kent State University and began coaching at Akron area high schools. A 1951 stint at Kenmore High School was followed one year later by a season at Hower High School. In 1953, he was promoted to head coach at Hower, where he stayed three seasons and compiled a 10-14-1 record. He completed his bachelor's degree in 1951 and his master's degree in 1955.[4]

Coaching career

In 1956, he began his college coaching career an assistant at the College of Wooster before spending two seasons as a backfield coach at Kent State University.[5]

In 1959, he began a five-year stretch as an assistant with Navy under Hall of Fame coach Wayne Hardin. As an assistant, he helped recruit Heisman Trophy winner and Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach to Navy. Navy went to two college bowl games, the 1964 Orange Bowl and the 1964 Cotton Bowl while he was on the staff.[6]

Success at Navy led to his first college head coaching position at the University of Connecticut in 1964. Over two years, he compiled a 7-10-1 record for the Huskies, but was named as the Yankee Conference coach of the year in his first season.[7][8]

In 1966, he moved up to become an NFL coach with the first of two seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals' offensive backfield coach.[9][10] Returning to Ohio in 1968, he served one year in that same role as a Cincinnati Bengals assistant under Paul Brown.[6][11] On January 15, 1969, he then took the head coaching position at the U.S. Naval Academy.[6]

After putting together a 10-33 record with three defeats against rival Army, Forzano resigned on February 1, 1973 to become an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions under Don McCafferty,[12] who had worked with him at Kent State in the late 1950s.[5] Forzano became the interim head coach after McCafferty's death from a heart attack on July 28, 1974 just before the start of exhibition play and was named as the coach for the remainder of the season a few days later.[13] After the 1974 season in which the team finished 7-7, the Lions signed him to a three-year contract to coach the team.[14] Forzano gave Bill Belichick his first full time coaching job with the Detroit Lions.[15] Forzano and Belichick had known each other for many years, as Forzano coached with his father Steve Belichick at Navy and had briefly lived with the Belichick family in 1959.[15]

Forzano was known as a strict disciplinarian.[16][17] However, Forzano was unable to lead the team to a winning record and was forced to resign on October 4, 1976 after the team lost three of its first four games. Forzano finished his Lions' tenure with a 15-17 record[16] and never returned to coaching, focusing on his own company, Rick Forzano Associates. The company, based in Detroit, serves as a manufacturer's sales representative.[18] Forzano also served as a commentator for Big Ten Conference football games.[]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Connecticut Huskies (Yankee Conference) (1964-1965)
1964 Connecticut 4-4-1 3-1-1 3rd
1965 Connecticut 3-6 2-2 T-3rd
Connecticut: 7-10-1 4-3-1
Navy Midshipmen (NCAA University Division independent) (1969-1972)
1969 Navy 1-9
1970 Navy 2-9
1971 Navy 3-8
1972 Navy 4-7
Navy: 10-33
Total: 17-43-1


Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
DET 1974 7 7 0 .500 2nd in NFC Central Division - - -
DET 1975 7 7 0 .500 2nd in NFC Central Division - - -
DET 1976 1 4 0 .250 3rd in NFC Central Division - - -
DET Total 15 18 0 .455 - - -


  1. ^ "Rick Forzano". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved .
  2. ^ https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2815136-former-detroit-lions-head-coach-rick-forzano-dies-at-90
  3. ^ "Navy Coach Quits; Joins Lion Staff". New York Times. 1973-02-02.
  4. ^ "Forzano to Coach at Connecticut: Assistant to Hardin at Navy Gets $13,000 Football Pact". New York Times. 1965-01-05.
  5. ^ a b "Navy Coach Resigns To Join Lions". The News and Courier. Associated Press. 1973-02-02. Retrieved .
  6. ^ a b c "Ex-Navy Aide Forzano Returns As Coach". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. 1969-01-16. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Navy Hires Forzano as Head Football Coach; EX-Bengals' Aide Noted Recruiter: Elias's Successor Served at Annapolis for Five Years Under Hardin". New York Times. 1969-01-29.
  8. ^ "Rick Forzano to Install Navy Offense at UConn". The Day. Associated Press. 1964-01-04. Retrieved .
  9. ^ "UConn Shopping For Grid Coach". Meriden Journal. Associated Press. 1966-03-05. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "Navy Selects Rick Forzano". Herald-Journal. Associated Press. 1969-01-13. Retrieved .
  11. ^ Franke, Russ (1969-10-08). "Coach DePasqua Had Choice: Sink At Navy Or Swim At Pitt". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "Forzano Leaves Navy For Job With Lions". Lakeland Ledger. Associated Press. 1973-02-01. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Rick Forzano Named To Guide Detroit Lions". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. 1974-07-30. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Lions Rehire Forzano". New York Times. 1974-12-24.
  15. ^ a b https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/25732939/ex-lions-coach-rick-forzano-dies-gave-bill-belichick-start-nfl
  16. ^ a b Shook, Richard L. (1976-10-05). "Rick Forzano out as Lions' coach". Beaver County Times. United Press International. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "Forzano Not 'Easy Rider'". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. 1974-07-30. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "History". Rick Forzano Associates, Inc. Retrieved 2014.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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