Rico Brogna doesn't shy away from the fact that he has frequently changed jobs since retiring from the major leagues in 2001.
But Brogna, a former three-sport star at Watertown High School, says he is ready to make a long-term commitment to the Notre Dame of Fairfield football program.
"The big part of this commitment for me is the fact that I have retired and resigned from baseball," said Brogna, who officially was introduced as the Lancers' new football coach during a press conference at the school on Wednesday morning.
"I get an opportunity to coach on a long-term basis at one place. The school needs that, the program and players need that, my family needs that."
Brogna, 41, posted a 75-62 record last season as the manager of the Mobile Bay Bears, a Class AA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was named the Diamondbacks' director of player personal in October of 2010 but resigned the position three weeks later.
On the high school level in Connecticut, he has coached football at Kennedy and Nonnewaug and basketball at his alma mater. He also was a volunteer football coach at Wesleyan University and head basketball coach at Post College in Waterbury.
Notre Dame of Fairfield athletic director Rob Bleggi admitted Brogna's history was an issue in the hiring process but believes the former New York Met is ready to stay in one place. It's something the Lancers desperately need as he will be their third football coach in five years.
"We think he will be a great asset to our program," Bleggi said. "He provides stability that we haven't had in the last couple years. We want to get our football program back on track where we expect it to be. We believe Rico will do that."
Brogna met with the Notre Dame players for the first time prior to the start of school on Tuesday morning. He replaces Joe Beler Jr., who stepped down after a two-year record of 5-15.
Brogna recalls scrimmaging Notre Dame while at Watertown when John Svatik was the Lancers' coach.
"The first thing that pops into my mind is that it was a physical scrimmage," he said. "I'm aware of the history and the tradition and the gold helmets. It's my goal to be part of the solution to restore it."
The task won't be easy as the Lancers have had trouble with numbers and play in a strong league, the South-West Conference, which includes state powers Masuk, Newtown and Pomperaug. One thing you won't hear from Brogna, however, is excuses.
Brogna wants a tough, physical team that can stretch the field with a passing game and also rely on the option. And he is used to not having huge numbers. At Kennedy and Nonnewaug, he often coached with less than 20 players on tbe roster.
"I realize where we are," he said. "The record usually tells you where you are, so 3-7 and 2-8, it's where we are, it's just reality. But I'm not in the excuse business of saying we're in a building process so hopefully that gives me three years of excuses why we're not doing well. That's not me."
The son of a coach, Brogna's first love is football even though he spent 10 years in the major leagues, including three seasons with the Mets.
A standout quarterback at Watertown, he was all set to attend Clemson on a full scholarship but baseball became front and center in his life when the Tigers took him in the first round of the 1988 draft.
"Football is always the one (sport) that draws me back," he said, "whether it's watching film late or trying to draw up new schemes or going to clinics. Really, the passion developed over the last couple years coaching at Wesleyan."
As a boy, Brogna's dream was to follow in the footsteps of his father as a coach. He remembers during his years with the Mets diagramming basketball and football plays. He just never thought he would get involved in coaching baseball.
"My dad was a coach since I was born," he said. "I went with my dad to every practice, every game, every road trip. Ever since I can remember, it was sports and I wanted to be like my dad."
Brogna understands that his job history might have made him a risky hire for Notre Dame and admits to being selfish in the past, but he's thankful the school has given him an opportunity.
"I know what's happened over the last 10 years with my situation," he said. "We need commitment (at Notre Dame). There been turnover here. Not only do we need a coach, but we need a coach who is going to stay."