Before heading to Robert Morris University as an assistant coach, former head coach John Banaszak made his mark coaching the Washington and Jefferson Presidents. The Colonials could again see their next head coach have their roots in Washington, Pennsylvania, if the team considers current W&J head coach Mike Sirianni.
In his 15th season as the head coach of the Presidents, Sirianni has masterfully completed the team’s third undefeated regular season during his time as head coach.
Unfortunately, the team fell to Frostburg State 46-23 in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs, but it was still an impressive year for a team that took down two top-25 opponents on their way to an 11-1 finish on the season.
In his 15 seasons, Sirianni has accumulated a 128-30 coaching record, only finishing one season with more than three losses.
Sirianni has established a perennial powerhouse in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, but after 15 years in Division III and at only 45 years old, Sirianni may just be the perfect candidate to create a new legacy for himself at Robert Morris.
Sirianni started his coaching career as an assistant at Mount Union, arguably one of the most successful Division III schools in the country with 780 victories, 12 national championships and 27 conference titles in their school’s history. Sirianni has since taken that winning mentality and proven he can build a winner himself here in Pennsylvania.
Sirianni is a familiar face in the Pittsburgh football scene and would have no problem adjusting to recruiting in the area as he has already had experience building success with the players that aren’t quite good enough to reach the Division I level of Pittsburgh, Duquesne or Robert Morris.
With the ability to recruit better talent, while having the understanding of what creates a winning culture, Sirianni could be a welcomed change for Robert Morris.
Meanwhile, back at Washington and Jefferson, next season will create a whole new look and a year that will require a complete rebuild for the Presidents. Sirianni is set to see 40 of his players graduate this season, including 15 all-conference players, making this the largest graduating class in Sirianni’s career. Providing yet another reason why it would be perfect timing for Sirianni to make the switch.
The Presidents finished the 2017 season ranked 10th in the nation with the 38th best scoring offense, averaging 36.2 points per game, compared to the 10.2 points per game the Colonials put up this season. Washington and Jefferson also put up the 14th-best passing offense in the nation, averaging 315.8 yards of passing per game.
With the ability to create a powerhouse offense alongside a proven winning culture for 15 years while only being 45 years old, Sirianni has the youth and proven success that would potentially be able to create a Joe Walton-like era of success back at Robert Morris.
While there is a noticeable difference in the talent from the Division III level to the Division I level of football, one cannot help notice the polar opposite levels of success that the Presidents and the Colonials have experienced.
The Colonials have not seen a winning season since 2010, while the Presidents have not seen a losing season in the entirety of Sirianni’s tenure. The kind of continued dominance that Washington and Jefferson fans have witnessed over the last 15 years is hard to replicate in any level of football, something which Sirianni should be commended for.
Meanwhile, it has been almost 20 years since Robert Morris’ last period of sustained success in football, back when the team won five straight conference titles from 1996 to 2000. Since then, the team has claimed just one conference title, and that was back in 2010, a distant memory for many RMU fans.
The team is looking for a change in the culture of this football team, something which could be done by someone with experience in creating his own winning culture just 34 miles from Robert Morris.
If Sirianni can bring the kind of prolonged success to RMU that has been in place at Washington and Jefferson, Robert Morris could have their head coach for the next 20 years.