Frank Rocco's family has become deeply entrenched in Virginia football.
All three of his sons - Frank Jr., Dan and David - are head coaches in Virginia. Frank Jr. and David are head coaches and athletic directors, respectively, at Liberty Christian Academy and The Covenant School.
Dan is the head coach at Richmond, which last week played Virginia, which is quarterbacked by Frank Jr.'s son, Michael.
Frank Sr., proud father and grandfather, watched from the stands and was moved to see his legacy splashed all over Scott Stadium.
"Very much so," he said between well-wishes earlier this week. "Saturday was really emotional, especially for my wife [Ann]. With both guys being on the field, to be able to experience that was really, really neat. When you've been to as many games and been involved as long as I have, I can put things in perspective. Knowing we couldn't do anything but let the game play out, I enjoyed it."
Rocco will have intermingled emotions again today when Penn State visits Virginia.
After spending three years as head coach at Altoona Area High School (1979-81), Rocco joined the Nittany Lions' football staff as an administrative assistant. He remained at Penn State in various capacities, including as an assistant coach in 1985, and spent most of his career as the Lions' director of football operations before retiring in 2000.
Though he'll obviously be rooting for the Cavaliers, Rocco, who lives in State College, still calls Penn State "we."
"No question about it," he said of his allegiance to the Nittany Lions (after this week). "We got a chance to watch the first half of Penn State's game last week, and when we left to go to the stadium, I was comfortable we were in good shape. When I heard the final score, I was really bummed out. And shocked."
Like all who have worked at, been associated with or followed Penn State, Rocco, who helped form the National Football Foundation's Central Pennsylvania chapter, was devastated by the Jerry Sandusky scandal and all of its incredible fallout.
"To have it [Penn State] all brought down is unthinkable," he said, "and we've got so far to go.
It's been humbling and embarrassing and coming back is going to be tough - and that's why I want Coach [Bill] O'Brien to do well and bring it back, but it's going to be a tough situation, I'm afraid."
Rocco was interviewed twice for the Freeh report, but said, "There was nothing I could tell them that was pertinent."
He declined to further discuss the matter.
"I've had calls from a lot of people, and I've refused to talk about it," he said. "Everybody involved in this is a friend of mine, and I do not want to comment. I've tried to stay out of it."
Frank Rocco Jr., the Lions' backup quarterback in the late 1970s and for the national championship team of 1982, said his mother and Dottie Sandusky have been close friends and part of a lunch group.
"It's all uncomfortable, but you want to be friends and supportive," Frank Jr. said. "It's complicated, and I know they've struggled getting their arms around the whole idea. I haven't been as close as I once was, but this rocked everyone's world - no matter where you live."
Like his dad, Frank Jr. will be pulling for Penn State to overcome its enormous adversity - starting with Navy's visit next Saturday.
"Obviously with my son on the other team, I won't be rooting for them this week," he said. "I rooted for them very hard against Ohio, and I'll be right back to it after this game - especially now [after the scandal]. I've been very impressed with what I see with Coach O'Brien and how these players have held down the fort."
Frank Jr., from 1979-82, was involved in a PSU quarterback competition that was eventually won by Todd Blackledge and led to Jeff Hostetler's transfer to West Virginia. Rocco's son won the job last year as a sophomore at UVA, has now started 14 straight games and faces a future with a high ceiling.
"Back in my day - we had the Blackledges and the Hostetlers," Frank Jr. said. "There's always those thoughts [for me] of 'what if, what if?' But it wasn't to be, and I'm very thankful my son has been able to hold off all challenges."
Today figures to a proud day for the Rocco family, win or lose, and one the family patriarch will especially enjoy. Frank Rocco Sr. has been in the Penn State football office and been around O'Brien a few times, but he didn't connect the dots, appropriately figuring the new coach had enough on his plate.
Rocco did promise O'Brien, "I won't be at another practice until after the Virginia game," he said, laughing. "I'm hoping by now he sees the significance."
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoona