Dukes look to rebound from back-to-back NEC losses
To put the Gattuso Era in perspective, consider the fact that at no time during its 77-year history has the Duquesne football program won 90 games in an 11-year span. Gattuso (90-29-0), now in his 12th season, is poised to pass Dan McCann (91-74-3 in 19 seasons) as DU's all-time winningest coach.
During his tenure, the 42-year-old Gattuso has won seven Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League championships (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2003), six league coach of the year honors (1995, `96, `99, `00, `02 & `03) and has been named Don Hansen's Football Gazette I-AA mid-major national coach of the year twice (1995 & 2003). He culminated the 2003 season by leading the Dukes to the consensus I-AA Mid-Major National Championship.
In addition, Gattuso has continually upgraded the Dukes' non-conference schedule, taking on such teams as Penn (Ivy League); Bucknell, Lafayette and Georgetown (Patriot League); Butler, Morehead State and Dayton (Pioneer League) and VMI (Southern Conference). This season DU will break more ground with games versus I-AA power Fordham and Holy Cross.
Gattuso's Dukes have also enjoyed post-season play, having participated in five ECAC Bowl/Classic games (1995, 1996, 2001, 2002 & 2003). He has coached three Associated Press All-America's (specialist Joe Rosato in 1996, linebacker Matt Fisher in 1998 and cornerback Leigh Bodden in 2001 & 2002), and seen 60 players named first team all-conference a total of 89 times. Two former Dukes, cornerback Leigh Bodden (Cleveland Browns), and fullback Josh Rue (Arizona Cardinals) are currently on NFL rosters - an unheard of feat for a I-AA Mid-Major program. With 12 starters returning from last year's 8-3-0 National Championship team, Gattuso has the tools to make a run at a sixth-consecutive league title in 2004.
Gattuso's first winning season as a college head coach came in just his second year at the helm when he guided the 1994 Dukes to a 6-4 record after going 4-6 in 1993.
The next season, Duquesne split its first two games before reeling off a school record 19 consecutive wins. In the process, DU rolled to the 1995 MAAC crown with a 7-0-0 record in league play and a 10-1-0 mark overall. The Dukes capped the season with their first post-season bowl appearance since the 1937 Orange Bowl, with a 44-20 win over Wagner in the ECAC Bowl played at DU's Rooney Field.
For his accomplishments, Gattuso was named 1995 Division I-AA Coach of the Year by the ECAC Intercollegiate Football Conference, the MAAC Football League and Don Hansen's Football Gazette.
Gattuso's 1996 team finished the regular season 10-0-0 (8-0-0 in the MAAC), marking the school's first undefeated regular season since 1941.
In 1999, Gattuso led the Dukes to four consecutive wins down the stretch to clinch the school's third league title in five years. In 2000, the Dukes won 10 games for the fourth time and made it back-to-back championships for the second time by rolling to the league title with a 7-0-0 MAAC record. In 2001, DU rolled to its fifth MAAC title in seven seasons with an average margin of victory of 33 points per game in league play. In 2002, 11-1-0 Duquesne became just the second I-AA Mid-Major to ever earn a spot in both the ESPN/USA Today Division I-AA and Sports Network I-AA polls when it held spots in both polls in late November. Last year, Duquesne posted an 8-3-0 record - including an ECAC Classic win over then 10-1 Monmouth - to win the school's first-ever Mid-Major National Championship. In the process, DU extended its MAAC win streak to 29 games in winning its fifth consecutive league title.
Under Gattuso, Duquesne has finished no worse than third in the MAAC. He was rewarded for his accomplishments with a contract extension last August that will keep him on the Bluff through the 2007 season.
Gattuso's ties to Duquesne football date back to 1987 when he served as a part-time assistant for a season. He returned to DU on a full-time basis in 1992 when he served as the program's first-ever full-time assistant. He accepted the head coaching position when Dan McCann retired following the `92 season.
Gattuso's head coaching career began in 1989 when he accepted the head coaching job at his alma mater, Pittsburgh's Seton-La Salle High School. There, Gattuso took a team that was 6-34 over the previous four years - including an 0-10 mark in 1988 - and turned the program around. Seton-La Salle posted a 28-10-1 record and made three WPIAL playoff appearances in Gattuso's three seasons, highlighted by a WPIAL AAA Championship and a Parkway Conference Championship in 1990.
As a player, Gattuso earned second team all-state honors and was named Pittsburgh Post-Gazette AA Player of the Year following his senior season in 1979. He continued his playing career at Penn State University where he was the starting nose guard on the Nittany Lions' 1982 national championship team. Gattuso earned AP honorable mention All-America honors as a senior. He also was a two-time AP All-East selection and played in the East-West Shrine All-Star game.
Following graduation, Gattuso stayed on at Penn State as an assistant coach under Joe Paterno for one season before returning to the Pittsburgh area in 1985. He coached the Seton-La Salle junior varsity team for a year, before serving as defensive coordinator at Center Township High School in 1986.
From 1989-91, Gattuso utilized his bachelor's degree in administration and criminal justice by working for the Pittsburgh and Bethel Park police departments.
Gattuso and his staff are recognized as some of the top evaluators of local talent in the area. Each season, Gattuso has increased the number of rookies on the DU roster, while elevating the overall talent level of Duquesne's student-athletes. Even though a large percentage of the DU roster hails from western Pennsylvania, Gattuso and his staff have consistently expanded the boundaries of Duquesne's recruiting effort.
A native of Pittsburgh's South Hills area, Gattuso and his wife Colleen have two daughters, Jacqueline and Kaitlin.