Rob Ianello did not last two calendar years as the coach of the football program at the University of Akron.
Ianello, 46, was fired Saturday after his teams finished with a record of 1-11 in each of his two seasons on the job.
“Ultimately, we need to win more games,” UA Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill said Saturday night during a news conference to announce the decision. “It’s not all about winning. There are lots of things that go in it.
“Certainly, we didn’t feel the program was headed in the direction we wanted it to. Winning was a factor in the decision.”
Ianello was named to the position on Dec. 10, 2009, after five seasons as an assistant coach at Notre Dame. He received a five-year contract in succeeding J. D. Brookhart, who had a 30-42 record in six seasons (2004 to 2009) with the Zips.
In 2010, Ianello’s team lost its first 11 games before beating the University at Buffalo 22-14 in its finale. The Zips were the last Football Bowl Subdivision team to win a game that season.
The 2011 Zips defeated only Virginia Military Institute, a member of the lower Football Championship Subdivision, in 12 starts. UA was particularly overwhelmed in the last four games, being outscored 189-35.
Included in that closing streak was a 35-3 home loss to Kent State in the Wagon Wheel game and a 68-19 defeat at Western Michigan two days ago in which the Broncos used their second-string quarterback.
The 2-22 record in two seasons included a 1-15 mark in the Mid-American Conference.
As the losses mounted, fan dissatisfaction grew, and the crowds at InfoCision Stadium grew smaller and restless.
“I can’t pinpoint exactly what the problem was. We did a lot of good things outside of the games,” Wistrcill said. “Ultimately, we didn’t do well on game days.”
Ianello was told of the decision on Saturday afternoon and was not available for comment. He was traveling to Eastern New York on Saturday with his wife and children to attend the funeral of his mother, Rita Ianello, who died Tuesday.
Wistrcill said the decision came down to one person, with agreement from another.
“I did,” he said when asked who made the decision. “I make a recommendation to the president [Dr. Luis Proenza]. He and I have had lots on conversation about this as well. He supported my decision and we move forward from here.”
It was Wistrcill who made the recommendation to the president two years ago to select Ianello in his first major hire as director of athletics. He was asked if having to fire Ianello was tough on him personally, but he deflected all attention from that.
“Disappointed because we had high hopes for him. I think he is a good football coach. I think we have good football coaches on our staff,” Wistrcill said. “It’s disappointing because you want to see it work.
“It has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with our student-athletes because I want to see them succeed and they weren’t succeeding.”
Ianello was given a contract that paid him $375,000 per year through 2014. His salary was $300,000. He also was paid $50,000 for radio work and $25,000 in shoe and apparel agreements.
A provision in the contract calls for the university to negotiate a settlement for at least one-half of his base salary for the final three years, but a final figure is yet to be determined.
“We are still working out the financial terms with our legal people and his as well,” Wistrcill said.
Wistrcill also said that’s Ianello’s entire staff has been dismissed and the university will fulfill their contracts by paying them through February.
“He and his staff worked their tail off to make us better,” Wistrcill said. “They gave a great effort.”
Obviously, the next step is to hire a replacement for Ianello.
“We will be beginning a national search … really interested to see the potential candidates out there, people who are interested in what we believe is a great opportunity for our next coach,” Wistrcill said.
Wistrcill said there is no timetable for hiring a new coach. Time is of the essence, with National Signing Day for incoming recruits in early February.