Villanova football was in search of a new defensive coordinator this off-season, and found one right on campus. Wildcats' linebackers coach Billy Crocker was promoted to the position after the departure of long-time staff member Mark Reardon. In addition, Andy Talley added two new coaches to his staff to replace the departed Reardon and Dave Sollazzo. Tony Trisciani will now coach Villanova's secondary, while Roc Bellantoni will take over as defensive line coach and special teams coordinator.
Crocker has now been a member of the Villanova football staff for seven seasons, he has previously coached defensive line and last season was moved over to coach linebackers. He was also the special teams coordinator in 2011. Under his direction last season, freshman linebacker Dillon Lucas was named both the CAA and ECAC Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named to the All-CAA third team.
Yesterday, news of Tony Trisciani's hiring leaked out through a release from his prior employer, Whitehall High School. He was the head football coach at Whitehall for five seasons, leading them to a 36-22 record and three appearances in the Class 4A playoffs. In 2010, with a team quarterbacked by Villanova freshman Chris Polony, the Zephyrs earned a spot in the District 11 Class 4A title game.
Prior to coaching at Whitehall, Trisciani compiled some FCS coaching experience, coaching defensive backs and linebackers at Elon University, linebackers at Lehigh University and he spent three season as the defensive backs coach at New Hampshire. He also coached at Alfred University and Springfield College, where he was a four-year starter as an undergraduate.
Prior to Villanova, Bellantoni spent a decade as an assistant at Eastern Illinois University from 2001 to 2011. His duties there included being the defensive coordinator from 2002-11 and the associate head coach in 2007-11. In 2009, EIU won the Ohio Valley Conference title. He had also been the defensive coordinator at Drake University. Prior to coaching, Bellantoni played college football at Iona College, where he was a three-year letterwinner at defensive tackle. He will step in to replace Dave Sollazzo, who left the program after just one season to join the coaching staff at Massachusetts.
Bellantoni is familiar with Villanova wide receivers coach Brian Flinn, who had also spent time on the staff at EIU, as well as offensive assistant Nick Kray, who played for EIU.
"Brian Flinn and Nick Cray are there," Bellantoni told the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier. "Once the openings were on their staff, they went to their head coach and talked to him about me. Not only Brian and Nick but I knew a few other guys on the staff."
He left Eastern Illinois as a result of former head coach Bob Spoo's retirement, who many thought Bellantoni would succeed. After two 2-9 seasons, however, he was told that the program wouldn't be promoting him after the 2011 season.
"I can’t lie to you: The last three or four years the way the administration has handled things here, there’s some bitterness. I’ll be honest."
Villanova has at least one more coaching hire pending, but for all intents and purposes, the staff is currently complete in advance of the final recruiting weekend for the 2012 class.