Bucknell introduces new coach Cecchini

LEWISBURG — Dave Cecchini was tired of wearing Valparaiso and Lehigh brown.

“I got a lot of earth tones in that wardrobe right now,” he said.

Instead, he turned in those bland threads for a new sharp Bucknell blue hat and sports coat, matching his blue and orange striped tie. Cecchini was introduced as the next Bucknell football coach on Saturday morning at the University’s Graham Center.

Bucknell Director of Athletics and Recreation Jermaine Truax, a former defensive back at Edinboro, welcomed Cecchini, a former All-American wide receiver at Lehigh, to a friendly offense vs. defense matchup at Christy Mathewson Stadium.

Truax doesn’t believe in his man-to-man coverage abilities any more, but he took the challenge of finding a new coach after nine-year coach Joe Susan resigned in January. Truax believes he found the right man in less than a month.

“I think we accomplished both. We were speedy and got the right guy. There’s no doubt about it,” Truax said. “I started this by knowing that with the backdrop of spring ball was right around the corner, how important it would be to get somebody in before that. Likely it was going to be a fairly new system and install on both sides. Again, I wasn’t going to sacrifice trying to get somebody quickly. I wanted the right person. In terms of the timeline, it was less than a month. There was a lot of interest in the position. Ultimately, there’s only so many Division I head football jobs. …Bucknell is an attractive institution. If you just set the football aside for a second, we offer so many things as a university. That alone makes us very attractive. People believe we can win here. …Dave rose above the ranks, no doubt about that.”

Truax was also impressed by the ability of Cecchini to leave a program in better shape than when he arrived. After successful stints as an offensive coordinator at Harvard, The Citadel and Lehigh, Cecchini was named head coach of Valparaiso in 2014. He took over a program that won just three games, all against the same opponent, in the four seasons before his arrival. In his first season in Indiana, Cecchini won four games. After winning a combined five games in his next two years, he guided Valparaiso to its best season in over a decade with a 6-5 mark. For this, Cecchini was a finalist for the American Football Coaches Association’s FCS National Coach of the Year and the STATS FCS Coach of the Year awards. He was also voted as the Pioneer Football League Coach of the Year and the AFCA FCS Region 4 Coach of the Year.

Cecchini has his hands full with a Bucknell team that went 1-10 last season. But if his resume says anything, he’ll have the Bison rising quickly.

“I believe I have the vision they have for a successful, championship-caliber football program. I realize it wasn’t a hard sell at all. It was an easy sell. I’m very appreciative of their efforts and their faith,” Cecchini said. “I’m not a big ego guy. I don’t think that I alone can turn this program into a championship-level program. Without question, it is a collaborative effort. It’s going to take our players buying into our philosophy…it goes even beyond that as well. It goes with the administration obviously here in athletics. It goes with the faculty and staff that are here on campus and admissions directors and people who can assist in recruiting efforts. … I believe with all my heart that this university has the ability to attract a championship-level caliber student-athlete that we are looking for. There are some outstanding days ahead for the future of Bucknell University’s football team.”