For 45 years and 10 state titles, Al Fracassa brought stability to the Birmingham Brother Rice football program.
Now the school is looking for its second coach in four years after Dave Sofran was fired in December.
Sofran, who played for Fracassa in the 1990s and spent 21 years in the program, was disappointed when he was relieved of his duties after going 11-1 his first season, 2-7 in Year 2 and 7-4 this past season.
Sofran also holds an associate athletic director’s job which is in jeopardy when a new coach is eventually hired.
“The situation is, I have the opportunity to be here until June 30,” he told the Free Press on Tuesday. “I will be looking for other opportunities during that time. I wish the administration well in finding a new football coach.’’
Athletic director Jeff Calcaterra announced the coaching change last month in a released statement.
“We truly appreciate all of the contributions Coach Sofran has made to Brother Rice during his three years as head coach, which followed his many years as an assistant coach and as a player,” Calcaterra said. “His commitment and loyalty to our football program and school will long be remembered.’’
Calcaterra told the Free Press on Monday that the school posted the position on Dec. 21, is still receiving résumés and inquiries about the job, and that there’s no imminent decision coming soon.
“We’re in the process of going through the search,’’ Calcaterra said. “A search committee has been formed and we’re reviewing all candidates at this time. I can’t speak to who is on the committee. We have not put a cutoff date (on applications). We’re compiling those who have applied for the position. We’ll be reviewing those in the coming weeks.
“We’re not going to shortchange the process. So we haven’t put a deadline on when we want to hire a coach. We want to make sure we are thorough in our search and thorough in the process of identifying and evaluating possible candidates and time frame will dictate once we’ve found and made that decision.’’
Calcaterra said there have been local and nonlocal applicants for the opening.
One of those won’t be Clinton Township Chippewa Valley football coach Scott Merchant, a former Rice assistant and three-year letter winner at Rice.
“After what I went through with Warren De LaSalle last year, I feel comfortable here at Chippewa Valley and have no intention of leaving,’’ said Merchant.
Last January, Merchant accepted the De LaSalle job and a few days later changed his mind and returned to Chippewa Valley.
“The people out here have been great to me and my family,’’ said Merchant. “I think we’re going to be good the next couple of years. I have talked to some Rice people, but I have not applied for the job and I don’t know who they’re looking at.’’
Because of the longevity of Rice coaches, having to find a replacement is a new experience for Calcaterra, in his second year as AD. Fracassa won a state-record 430 games.
“That’s true of all our coaches,’’ he said. “Since Rice’s inception we’ve had other coaches that have been here 20-plus years, 30-plus years. Obviously the old guard of coaches that established Brother Rice back in the ’70s and ’80s are all now at the retirement age.’’