Navy Football to honor former head football coaches Rick Forzano and George Welsh
January 29, 2019
Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk announced today that the Naval Academy Athletic Association will honor former head football coaches Rick Forzano and George Welsh the weekend of the Navy-Holy Cross football game (August 31, 2019).
“It is most appropriate that we spend time together reflecting and reminiscing about two very appreciated and respected former leaders within the Navy football family,” said Gladchuk. “This weekend in the Fall will bring many back to the Academy to share stories and recollections about two special men who influenced the lives of so many. They were icons in our profession and role models in the development of leadership within the Brigade. I expect our time together to be very heartfelt and memorable.”
Former Navy football players who played for Forzano or Welsh will be invited back for a reception and dinner on Friday night at Akerson Tower at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, as well as for the football game on Saturday against Holy Cross, where there will be a remembrance at halftime. For more information on the event contact Assistant Athletic Director for Special Operations and Administration Joe Cook at 410-293-8729 or at firstname.lastname@example.org(.)
A native of Coaldale, Pa ., Welsh was a 1956 graduate of the Naval Academy where he earned three varsity letters as a member of the football team (1953-55). Navy compiled a record of 18-7-3 in his three years and he quarterbacked the 1954 team famously known as the “Team Named Desire” to an 8-2 record and a 21-0 victory over SEC Champion Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. In his three years at quarterback, Welsh threw for 2,411 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was named a First-Team All-American in 1955 when he led the country in passing and total offense and finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
After graduation, Welsh served eight years in the Navy and reached the rank of Lieutenant. He was an assistant coach for Wayne Hardin at Navy in 1960 and 1961 and was an assistant coach at Penn State under Rip Engle and Joe Paterno from 1963-72.
Welsh was named the head coach at Navy in 1973 and compiled a record of 55-46-1 from 1973-81. He led Navy to the 1978 Holiday Bowl (23-16 win over BYU), the 1980 Garden State Bowl (35-0 loss to Houston) and the 1981 Liberty Bowl (31-28 loss to Ohio State). Welsh was 7-1-1 against Army and won the CIC Trophy in 1973, 1975, 1978, 1979 and 1981. He left Navy for Virginia at the end of the 1981 season as Navy’s all-time winningest coach and remained that until he was surpassed by current Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo in 2014.
Welsh served as the head football coach at Virginia from 1982 to 2000. During that 19-year period, he compiled a record of 134-86-3 and retired as the winningest coach in ACC history.
Welsh passed away on January 2 in Charlottesville.
Forzano, who preceded Welsh in Annapolis, died on January 9 in Orlando. He was the head coach at Navy from 1969-72.
Forzano was an assistant coach at Navy from 1959-63 under Wayne Hardin and coached the likes of Heisman Trophy winners Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach.
Forzano was also the head coach at UConn (1964-65) and with the Detroit Lions (1974-76), where he gave a young Bill Belichick his first job as assistant special teams coach.
Forzano was an assistant coach in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.
At Navy, Forzano hired an incredible five assistant coaches that went on to become head coaches: Leeman Bennett (Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Frank Gansz (Kansas City Chiefs), Pete McCulley (San Francisco 49ers), Jim Stanley (Oklahoma State) and Joe Bugel (Phoenix Cardinals and Oakland Raiders).
Steve Belichick’s career as the longest-tenured assistant in Navy football history (1956-89) included a stint under Forzano.