Washington and Lee’s Miriello retires
School’s all-time winningest coach calls it quits after 17 seasons
LEXINGTON, Va. -- Washington and Lee’s Frank Miriello has announced his retirement as the school’s head football coach effective immediately. Miriello will remain as an instructor of physical education through the remainder of the current term.
"A few weeks ago I celebrated my 67th birthday and on that day I found myself pausing and reflecting on my life’s journey," Miriello said. "I have been coaching for 45 years and it feels like it is the right time to retire. It has been a privilege and an honor to serve this great university and the outstanding student-athletes I have worked with for the last 26 years. It has been a wonderful journey. I will be forever grateful to former head coach Gary Fallon, former athletic directors Bill McHenry and Mike Walsh and former President John Elrod. It is difficult to express the magnitude of my appreciation to those gentlemen for providing me the opportunity to coach at the collegiate level at such a prestigious university."
Miriello is the program’s all-time wins leader, posting a 90-79-1 (.532) overall record across his 17 seasons as head coach. His teams posted a .500 or better record in 12 of his 17 seasons and he guided the Generals to a pair of Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) titles and the only two NCAA tournament berths in program history.
"Frank Miriello's decision to retire marks the end of an important time in the life of the football program at W&L,” athletic director Jan Hathorn said. "Frank's contributions over the past 17 years have been very significant, and his love of the game has been at the heart of the success of the football program, especially in his commitment to our student-athletes and his track record for winning. We are grateful to Frank for all that he has done to inspire, teach and direct the young men in the program, and for the many ways he has built a name for our football program that is synonymous with hard work, quality and spirit. It's a bittersweet time for us, as we will miss Frank and we are happy for him in his decision. With much gratitude, we wish him well in his retirement."
Five times Miriello was selected as the ODAC Coach of the Year (1996, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2010) and in 2006, he was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) South Region Coach of the Year and SportExe Division III Coach of the Year. That season, he led W&L to a 7-4 record and the program’s first conference title since 1985. It also marked W&L’s first postseason appearance since the 1951 Gator Bowl as the Generals met Wilkes in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
"I always attempted to set attainable and realistic objectives and goals, and in the process, make it a high priority that each season the team would achieve milestones that had not been accomplished in recent history or ever," Miriello said. "'Doing things that haven’t been done' was our driving force. It wasn’t about championships as much as it was about preparation and the process. The focus was on commitment, improvement and team. Fortunately, I had outstanding assistant coaches and student-athletes that bought into this approach."
Despite a resume that included just three losing seasons in his first nine years, Miriello’s teams got better over time as evidenced by a 49-32 (.605) overall record across the last eight seasons. His 2010 team finished 8-3 overall and won a second conference title, while his 2011 squad completed the season with an 8-2 mark that included losses by a combined 14 points to NCAA tournament participants Centre and Hampden-Sydney.
"It has been a great run here the last eight years and I’m very proud of the guys for their outstanding effort and commitment," Miriello said. "It all paid off with a pretty good run. When I looked at the last eight years and what we accomplished, a couple of titles there, two eight-win seasons and an 11-1 record in conference the last two years, I realized how special this run has been."
Individually, Miriello coached his players to 61 First Team All-ODAC citations and 11 All-America honors. Additionally, two players, Robert Hull ’96 and Chris Sullivan ’02, were named finalists for the Gagliardi Award, which is presented to the Division III National Player of the Year.
As a coach at various stages of his career, Miriello spent more than 26 years as a coach at Washington and Lee, joining the staff in 1978 as a member of Gary Fallon’s first football team at W&L. He coached the offensive line through the 1981 season, helping lead the Generals to the ODAC title in his final season. After assistant coaching stops at Hampden-Sydney (1982) and VMI (1983-84), Miriello served as the head coach for one season at Steelton-Highspire High School in Pennsylvania (1985) before serving as the head football and lacrosse coach at Mercersburg Academy from 1986-89. He returned to W&L in 1990 as assistant football and assistant lacrosse coach and became Fallon’s defensive coordinator in 1991 until taking over as interim head coach following Fallon’s unexpected death in 1995. The interim tag was removed following the season.
Prior to arriving at W&L in 1978, Miriello had also been a football coach at Shamokin, Williamsport, Southern Columbia and Warrior Run High Schools in Central Pennsylvania.
"I feel it is fitting that the game versus Hampden-Sydney was my last," Miriello said. "Losing by only a touchdown (42-35) after falling behind 28-0 in the third quarter. The guys never gave up, they stayed focused and played with class. That is what W&L Football is all about. I hope that those are the hallmarks for what we have done here over the last 17 years and those hallmarks will continue as the program moves forward."