As news of Brien McMahon hiring A.J. Albano as its football coach started to spread yesterday, among the factors discussed was that Albano is 26 years old, extremely young to be taking on such a demanding job.
If Albano were 10 years older, the fact that he has served as an assistant coach at Darien for five years, the last three as defensive coordinator, would make everyone view him as battle tested.
So is Albano’s age a liability?
Seven years ago, Trinity Catholic made what appeared to be a bold move by hiring Bryan Fox, who was 27 at the time. Like Albano, Fox had played for the school he was taking over and had served his apprenticeship as an assistant.
The Crusaders went 24-27 during five seasons under Fox, who stepped down at the end of the 2008 season.
Perhaps no one has a better perspective on what Albano is going through, and what he can expect, than the person who helped rebuild the Crusaders’ program and led it to a pair of seven-win seasons.
“It’s got to be super exciting for him,” Fox said. “I know it was for me. To go back to your alma mater. I don’t know him, but everyone I’ve spoken to has said he’s a good coach and well respected.”
Asked if he faced any kind of immediate backlash because of his age, Fox said, “I didn’t, and he won’t to his face, though I’m sure it happened behind the scenes, especially after I went 2-8 that first season. I’m sure his expectations are going to be through the roof. He’s going to be shooting for the stars, and that’s the way it should be. He’s looking to succeed at the highest level.”
Fox said he had one simple bit of advice for Albano: “Find the best staff possible. The first thing I did was surround myself with good people. I was lucky.”