|Born||November 20, 1928|
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||January 10, 2019 (aged 90)|
Orlando, Florida, U.S.
|Alma mater||Kent State|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1951||Kenmore HS (OH) (assistant)|
|1952||Hower HS (OH) (assistant)|
|1953–1955||Hower HS (OH)|
|1957–1958||Kent State (assistant)|
|1966–1967||St. Louis Cardinals (OB)|
|1968||Cincinnati Bengals (OB)|
|1973||Detroit Lions (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
10–14–1 (high school)
Richard Eugene Forzano (November 20, 1928 – January 10, 2019) was an American football coach at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, most prominently as head coach of the National Football League's Detroit Lions from 1974 to 1976.
Early life and career
Forzano was born November 20, 1928, in Akron, Ohio. He played football at Kenmore High School until he suffered a detached retina as a sophomore, which ended his playing days. He enlisted in the Marine Corps but was medically discharged as a result of the injury that left him with 20/400 vision in one eye.
He enrolled at Kent State University and began coaching at Akron area high schools. A 1951 stint at Kenmore High School was followed one year later by a season at Hower High School. In 1953, he was promoted to head coach at Hower, where he stayed three seasons and compiled a 10–14–1 record. He completed his bachelor's degree in 1951 and his master's degree in 1955.
In 1956, he began his college coaching career an assistant at the College of Wooster before spending two seasons as a backfield coach at Kent State University.
In 1959, he began a five-year stretch as an assistant with Navy under Hall of Fame coach Wayne Hardin. As an assistant, he helped recruit Heisman Trophy winner and Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach to Navy. Navy went to two college bowl games, the 1961 Orange Bowl and the 1964 Cotton Bowl while he was on the staff.
Success at Navy led to his first college head coaching position at the University of Connecticut in 1964. Over two years, he compiled a 7-10-1 record for the Huskies, but was named as the Yankee Conference coach of the year in his first season.
In 1966, he moved up to become an NFL coach with the first of two seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals' offensive backfield coach. Returning to Ohio in 1968, he served one year in that same role as a Cincinnati Bengals assistant under Paul Brown. On January 15, 1969, he then took the head coaching position at the U.S. Naval Academy.
After putting together a 10–33 record with three defeats against rival Army, Forzano resigned on February 1, 1973, to become an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions under Don McCafferty, who had worked with him at Kent State in the late 1950s. Forzano became the interim head coach after McCafferty's death from a heart attack on July 28, 1974, just before the start of exhibition play and was named as the coach for the remainder of the season a few days later. After the 1974 season in which the team finished 7-7, the Lions signed him to a three-year contract to coach the team. Forzano gave Bill Belichick his first full time coaching job with the Detroit Lions. Forzano and Belichick had known each other for many years, as Forzano coached with his father Steve Belichick at Navy and had briefly lived with the Belichick family in 1959.
Forzano was known as a strict disciplinarian. However, Forzano was unable to lead the team to a winning record and was forced to resign on October 4, 1976, after the team lost three of its first four games. Forzano finished his Lions' tenure with a 15–17 record and never returned to coaching, focusing on his own company, Rick Forzano Associates. The company, based in Detroit, serves as a manufacturer's sales representative. Forzano also served as a commentator for Big Ten Conference football games.
Head coaching record
|Connecticut Huskies (Yankee Conference) (1964–1965)|
|Navy Midshipmen (NCAA University Division independent) (1969–1972)|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|DET||1974||7||7||0||.500||2nd in NFC Central Division||-||-||-|
|DET||1975||7||7||0||.500||2nd in NFC Central Division||-||-||-|
|DET||1976||1||4||0||.250||3rd in NFC Central Division||-||-||-|
- ^ "Rick Forzano". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "Former Detroit Lions Head Coach Rick Forzano Dies at 90".
- ^ "Navy Coach Quits; Joins Lion Staff". New York Times. 1973-02-02.
- ^ "Forzano to Coach at Connecticut: Assistant to Hardin at Navy Gets $13,000 Football Pact". New York Times. 1965-01-05.
- ^ a b "Navy Coach Resigns To Join Lions". The News and Courier. Associated Press. 1973-02-02. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ a b c "Ex-Navy Aide Forzano Returns As Coach". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. 1969-01-16. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "Rick Forzano to Install Navy Offense at UConn". The Day. Associated Press. 1964-01-04. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "UConn Shopping For Grid Coach". Meriden Journal. Associated Press. 1966-03-05. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "Navy Selects Rick Forzano". Herald-Journal. Associated Press. 1969-01-13. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ Franke, Russ (1969-10-08). "Coach DePasqua Had Choice: Sink At Navy Or Swim At Pitt". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "Forzano Leaves Navy For Job With Lions". Lakeland Ledger. Associated Press. 1973-02-01. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "Rick Forzano Named To Guide Detroit Lions". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. 1974-07-30. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "Lions Rehire Forzano". New York Times. 1974-12-24.
- ^ a b "Ex-Lions coach Forzano dies; gave Belichick start". 11 January 2019.
- ^ a b Shook, Richard L. (1976-10-05). "Rick Forzano out as Lions' coach". Beaver County Times. United Press International. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "Forzano Not 'Easy Rider'". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. 1974-07-30. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- ^ "History". Rick Forzano Associates, Inc. Retrieved October 27, 2014.