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Banaszak Named AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pittsburgh – Robert Morris University assistant head coach and head coach-in-waiting John Banaszak was named Assistant Coach of the Year at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level as announced by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

Banaszak, who is set to officially become the Colonials’ head coach this December with the retirement of Joe Walton, has spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant coach and assistant head coach on the RMU staff.

Banaszak is one of five coaches selected this year, each at different levels of college football, for dedication to their teams and communities. He is the first Robert Morris coach, as well as the first from the Northeast Conference (NEC), to claim this honor.

The 2013 season was Banaszak’s sixth as assistant head coach for Robert Morris. Among his numerous duties with the program, he has been responsible for tutoring the defensive line and the special teams unit.

Under Banaszak’s guidance in 2013, Robert Morris leads the Northeast Conference in net punting, punt return defense and punt return average while also placing second in the league in kickoff coverage. The Colonials actually rank fourth nationally in punt returns as Banaszak guided Antwan Eddie (Homestead, Fla. / South Dade) to a single-season school record 405 punt return yards.

Banaszak was also a key component in instructing a RMU defense that finished second in the NEC in total defense within league play. Robert Morris ranks among the top 25 nationally in a number of defensive categories including third-down defense, first downs allowed, passing defense, red zone defense, passing efficiency defense, turnovers gained and total defense. He helped A.J. Holderman (Chagrin Falls, Ohio / Kenston) enjoy a breakout campaign that saw him finish with 14.5 tackles for loss, the third-highest figure in RMU single-season annals.

With Banaszak’s assistance, RMU has led the NEC in total defense four times in the past 10 years and ranked among the top four nine times in the past 11 seasons.

Banaszak was a key component to a 2010 group that led the NEC in total defense, allowing an average of 312.6 yards per game, and coaching a defensive line that recorded 13 of RMU's 21 sacks as the Colonials claimed the NEC's inaugural berth in the FCS Playoffs.

In 2006, Banaszak helped tutor a RMU defense that led I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision) in total defense, allowing an average of just 228.36 yards per game.

Eight of the 11 players in school history to earn All-NEC recognition on the defensive line have come under the tutelage of Banaszak, including Nolan Nearhoof (2009-12), who was named the 2012 NEC Defensive Player of the Year after breaking both the school and league records for career sacks.

Nearhoof would go on to earn All-America honors courtesy of The Sports Network, becoming the third Colonial defensive lineman to claim an All-America nod under Banaszak within the past seven years.

Banaszak has also guided four different Colonials to All-NEC honors at return specialist and seen two awards each go to RMU kickers and punters.

Banaszak has volunteered his time to several organizations, including Holy Family, NFL alumni, the Children’s Hospital and local veterans groups.

Banaszak is a 1975 graduate of Eastern Michigan and won three Super Bowl titles with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including claiming Defensive Player of the Game honors in Super Bowl XIII.

The Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.

As a winner of this award, Banaszak will receive a commemorative plaque. He will also be honored at the President’s Kickoff Luncheon, Monday, Jan. 13, at the 2014 AFCA Convention in Indianapolis.

The AFCA was founded in 1922 and currently has more than 11,000 members around the world, ranging from the high school level to the professional ranks. According to its constitution, the AFCA was formed, in part, to “maintain the highest possible standards in football and the coaching profession” and to “provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to football and coaching.”

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.