Updated Tue, Jan 3, 2012 3:00 pm
Pete Germano, Ohio football's longest tenured coach, has accepted an offer to coach the defensive line and special teams units at Fresno State University. The information was confirmed to WOUB by Ohio media relations director Tom Symonds on Tuesday morning.
Germano, who spent 11 years as a coach on the Bobcat staff and most recently coached the same two units on the Bobcat staff, was the only assistant retained by current Ohio head coach Frank Solich in 2005 when Solich took over the program. Since Solich took over, the program is 50-40, has won the MAC East three times and won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2011, the first bowl win in school history.
"I was fired in '04," Germano said. "I was jobless, and Frank gave me an opportunity to stay, and I was a part of that transformation. I feel very proud to have been a part of that. I feel like I'm not leaving on a bad note but on a good note."
He was the recruiting coordinator for eight years before taking defensive line duties in 2009. Germano also spent four years working with Bobcat tight ends. Under his defensive line tutelage, Ohio's rush defense ranked seventh in the Mid-American Conference in 2009, second in 2010 and third in 2011. He talked Tuesday of the program's growth in his tenure.
"It went from one of the worst to the best," Germano said. "Missing a MAC Championship, sure. The direction of this staff and coach Solich have made it relevant. Not only relevant but a program that MAC teams want to model now. Being a part of that…seeing that bowl win and that 10th win was so gratifying, it was really emotional for me."
Former Bobcat defensive lineman Stafford Gatling played for Germano in 2009 and was second-team All-MAC in 2010 for his season where he recorded 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
"I'm proud of him," Gatling said. "He was a great coach and taught me a lot to become a better football player and a better man in life. He knew how to bring out the best in me. He really loves his players. I know where ever he goes he will be a great coach. I'm excited for him."
Gatling signed with the New York Jets after not being selected in the 2010 NFL Draft - he was cut in training camp - and spoke highly of his former coach.
"He meant a lot to me," Gatling added. "I'm sorry he's not going to be a Bobcat anymore but as a coach I'm glad he got an opportunity."
"I did have a special relationship with my players," Germano said. "I developed them, and that's what made it really hard that I had to call kids instead of looking them in the eye, and tell them I was leaving instead of hugging them and telling them that.
"I'm one of the spokes in the wheel of the group of guys under Frank's leadership that was a part of this transformation. So yeah, I feel like its a better place now than it was when I got there, but that's part of what we did as a whole, as a staff."
Germano will join former Bobcat defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter in Fresno State. DeRuyter recently accepted the head coaching position with the Bulldogs and is bringing Germano, a familiar face, with him. Germano and DeRuyter worked together in Athens from 2002-2005. Germano said the two have stayed friends throughout the years.
"At my age, at 51, I put a lot of years into Ohio University. We got our first bowl win. I feel really good about where we're at and what was accomplished," Germano said. "I know there is still a lot to be done there. I haven't had many opportunities to move on…I thought it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up."
Germano spoke with fondness of the Athens community, which he lived in for more than a decade.
"It's hard to explain that in words," Germano said of his now former home. "My kids grew up here in Athens. The community has been unbelievable in their support, from the coaches that have coached my kids and taught my kids, to the people that were at my doorstep the day after my house was hit with tornado. What a great place to raise a family…just blessed.
"[Athens] will hold a special place in our hearts as a family for being a part of that community. Hard to make the move when you make the move from that standpoint and what that meant to us as a family. [We] felt part of the community right from the get-go and it just grew from there."