The Dinos football team received a huge shock Thu., Jan. 5 with the announcement that Head Coach Tony Fasano had been removed from the roster. Fasano was with the Dinos for 20 years, the last 10 as head coach. Under his guidance the team recorded 44 wins, 43 losses and one tie in Canada West conference play. This significant announcement surprised many current players.
"This really came as a shock," said fifth-year wide receiver Dave Holowaychuk. "Change is never easy and it's going to be really hard losing someone who was so dedicated to the program. A lot of guys are really going to miss him."
"A lot of us are really surprised and shocked at this decision," echoed fifth-year defensive player Drew Carpenter. "There were no rumours or whispers that would have alluded to this happening. It really came out of nowhere."
"Being part of the team, you'd think we'd at least have been told before it was broadcasted all over the media," said one disgruntled fourth-year player. "Especially since most of us have been training with him for years. We're a team and I think we had a right to know before everyone else."
Some Dinos fans were not as surprised; the team suffered their worst season in Dinos history in 2005 with a final record of two wins and six losses.
"It makes you wonder that if we'd had a better season maybe things would have turned out differently," said fourth-year offensive lineman Tim O'Neill. "Tony's a really good coach and now we're going to have to start from scratch with someone completely new. As a team we need to really come together and work our butts off during the off-season, especially now that we don't have a leader."
"Tony's a great person, a good coach and I really respect him. But maybe someone else might be more effective in the head coach position," admitted fifth-year defensive player Chris Wollin. "Something needed to change. Maybe this is the something that will turn the team around. New blood isn't always a bad thing."
Assistant Coach John Stevens will head the team while administrators seek a replacement. Stevens joined the team in 2003 after a successful coaching career elsewhere. Stevens was Canadian Interuniversity Sport's Coach of the Year in 1997 while coaching the Saint Francis Xavier University X-Men and was named Atlantic University Sport Coach of the Year in 1994 and 1997. This year Stevens was the Dinos' head defensive coordinator.
Stevens made huge strides with what could have been a lacklustre defense. His men were able to hold back the best teams in the league countless times in the red-zone. His players accumulated 434 solo tackles and 16 interceptions for 280 yards.
There is much speculation as to who will be recruited to replace Fasano. However, many players are rooting for Stevens.
"It would be great to see Stevens take the reins," said Carpenter. "He is a great coach and the players really seem to admire and respect him. Plus, if Stevens is made head coach, it'll be a much easier transition for the team in general--having someone who already knows the ropes. I think bringing in a brand new coach would just disrupt the team even more at this point."
"I think having Stevens as a head coach would be great," agreed Wollin. "He's such a strong contributor to the program already. He's a great recruiter and an inspiring coach. We would be lucky to have him!"
No matter what decision is made regarding the now vacant head coach position, many Dinos fans are sorry to see Fasano go and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Administrators were unavailable to comment on when to expect a replacement.