- - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Michael Rocco’s uncle is the coach at the University of Richmond. His dad was a quarterback at Penn State.

So when he saw this year’s Virginia football schedule?

“It was interesting, to say the least,” Rocco said.

The Cavaliers will open with those two teams, beginning with Saturday’s Rocco Bowl. Michael will be the starting quarterback for U.Va., while Danny Rocco makes his debut as UR’s coach.

It’s a matchup that will take place, in part, because of Danny’s efforts.

Danny Rocco served on Virginia’s staff with Mike London during the Al Groh years, and when London got the head coaching job, Rocco called with his congratulations — and a tip.

“I told Mike London that my nephew was strongly considering opening up his recruitment,” Rocco said. “Recruiting is such a competitive operation, I was really reaching out to help my nephew, because I really thought that Michael would be a great fit up there at U.Va.”

Michael was committed to Louisville at the time, but the school had just changed coaches. He had a grayshirt offer from Penn State, but opted for the full scholarship London offered him.

During that process, he leaned on his family, including Danny, for advice. He could have played at Liberty, as his brother Chris did, but was encouraged to play at the highest level he could.

As it was, Danny wouldn’t have coached his nephew for long.

This past offseason, he took the opening with the Spiders, and it was London, a UR grad, making the congratulatory call.

“As a football alumnus, you’re always interested in what happens to the program,” London said. “Danny is a good man and a good coach. He’ll do big things there.”

First, though, an interfamily matchup. It’s a new twist for a family that bleeds football.

Michael’s dad, Frank Rocco Jr., coaches at Liberty Christian Academy. Frank and Danny’s father, Frank Rocco Sr., was a longtime staff member at Penn State.

Through their various connections, most of the U.Va. and UR staffs are familiar with each other.

“A lot of irony; a lot of subplots, if you will,” Danny said. “I’ve got a lot of guys on my staff that have either played at U.Va., graduated at U.Va. or coached at U.Va. So it’s going to be a real interesting and exciting afternoon when we show up there Saturday.”

Most of the Rocco clan will find its way to Charlottesville as well.

For three hours, though, those ties will be set aside on the football field.

“It’s going to be a great weekend for my family,” Michael said. “It’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be competitive. It always is in the Rocco family.”

John O’Connor contributed to this report.

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