Robert Morris announced its post-Walton plan on Tuesday.
Just the thought of Robert Morris football without legendary head coach Joe Walton is a tough concept to process. After all, Joe is the only coach the program has ever known since its inception in 1994 and the six-time Northeast Conference champion is No Ordinary Joe.
Walton and the Colonials carried the torch for the Northeast Conference at two critical junctures of the league’s postseason history.
After leading RMU to the inaugural NEC title in 1996, Walton and the Colonials represented the league in the ECAC Bowl against cross-town rival and then-MAAC member Duquesne. Underdogs going up against a well-established Duquesne program with a history dating back to 1902, Robert Morris and their former NFL head coach pulled out a 28-26 win.
Fast forward to 2010 when the NEC received automatic access to the NCAA FCS playoffs for the first time in its history. Walton and the Colonials happen to win the league title again that season, the porgram’s sixth, and carried the banner up against North Dakota State before 18,000-plus fans in the Fargodome during the 2010 FCS First Round.
Walton after RMU clinched the 2010 NEC title…
Walton, a former All-American tight end for Pitt, has been beloved in football circles out in western Pennsylvania. After a playing career that included stints with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, Walton served as head coach of the New York Jets from 1983 through 1989 and made a pair of NFL Wildcard playoff appearances with the club.
Robert Morris issued a press release in the midst of the 2011 season, announcing a two-year extension for Walton with a pending retirement slated for 2013. The deal allows the godfather of RMU football to remain at the helm for the 2012 and 2013 campaigns before calling it quits.
Following the 2013 season, Walton will hand the reins to another western Pennsylvania football legend with NFL credentials.
For 2014 will finally be John Banaszak’s time.
In a Tuesday, Jan. 24 press conference, RMU Director of Athletics Craig Coleman, M.D., announced RMU Assistant Head Football Coach John Banaszak as the program’s coach-in-waiting.
Banaszak has been a member of Walton’s staff for the past nine years and has spent that time mentoring a number of decorated defensive linemen that include Academic All-Americans Ray Gensler and Nolan Nearhoof.
The 1975 graduate of Eastern Michigan spent four successful seasons at the helm of D-III Washington & Jefferson prior to signing on at RMU.
Banaszak (pictured below) has a trio of Super Bowl rings from his days as a d-lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
RMU AD Craig Coleman on the announcement…
“Coach Walton has done a tremendous job starting the program from scratch and developing it to its current level,” Coleman said. “We are blessed to have another outstanding coach on our staff in Coach Banaszak to provide leadership and excellence when Walton retires.”
Footage from John Banaszak Press Conference (Jan. 24)
– Jan. 24, 2012 –