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RIP, Foge Fazio
December 2, 2009 - John Mehno
Wednesday brought the sad news that Serafino "Foge" Fazio had died at 71.
Fazio grew up in Coraopolis, PA and served as Pitt's head football coach for four seasons, 1982-85. His record there was a respectable 25-18-3, but it was a disappointment because his predecessor, Jackie Sherrill, had posted three consecutive 11-1 seasons. His team had a 3-7-1 record in 1984, and his fate was sealed when the 1985 team lost 31-0 to Penn State.
I remember attending the press conference to announce his firing. The Pitt officials were uneasy because they knew they were firing a good man whose teams just didn't win often enough. Fazio did his best to ease the tension, which spoke to the kind of guy he was. Truth be told, I think he may have felt at least a little sense of relief from their decision.
After Pitt, he worked on Lou Holtz's staff at Notre Dame, then moved to the NFL, working for five different teams through 2003. The Cleveland Browns scapegoated him after a playoff loss to the Steelers, and he finished with the Minnesota Vikings. When he retired, he moved back to Pittsburgh. In recent years he was working as an analyst on Pitt football radio broadcasts. He started the current season in that role, but his health issues became serious and he was unable to continue.
Fazio was a highly respected defensive coach. He may have been in over his head running a program, but his years at Pitt weren't terrible by any means. He'll be remembered as a good man who loved teaching the game of football.
Condolences to his family and friends.