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updated: 11/18/2016 11:04 PM

Andriola's out as Grant's football coach

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  • Vito Andriola

    Vito Andriola

 
 

The fit just wasn't right.

That's the best explanation Vito Andriola has for why he resigned his position as football head coach at Grant shortly after the regular season ended.

The news of his departure became official at the Fox Lake high school this week.

"To coach football now, you have to be the right fit in so many ways," Andriola said Thursday. "Fit is so important. It's one of the reasons I came to Grant.

"I thought I was the right fit. I really did."

The numbers tell a different story.

Andriola went 7-20 in his three seasons at Grant and never defeated a team with a winning record. The Bulldogs lost their last game of the season this year to a Round Lake team that was winless at the time.

Prior to Andriola's arrival, Grant had been to the playoffs in six of the previous eight seasons, and averaged six wins a season.

"I came here because I wanted to make Grant football significant in the state of Illinois. I wanted to do something significant. That's what I do," Andriola said. "But you need discipline and accountability. The way we run our program is a little different. We expect a lot and maybe it was just too much for Fox Lake.

"This is the first time in my career that I didn't change things around in three years. It was really hard. I thought this year we were changing the culture, and there would be days I'd ask myself, 'Why isn't this going?' I felt like we were doing things right with our leadership and character classes but it doesn't seem like it fit with where we were going and what we wanted to do. I feel like I had to compromise some of my values."

Andriola has a reputation for his relentless approach to coaching. He has been known over his career to spend countless hours in his office preparing for practices and games, sometimes even sleeping there.

"I appreciate everything Vito did," Grant athletic director Dick Knar said. "The guy works. He works tirelessly. I mean, I'd get to school around 5 a.m., 5:30 and he would have already been there for an hour. He watched so much film, and worked on our weight room program. You can't say enough about how he worked and I appreciated that.

"But when you look at your programs, especially your prominent programs and football is one of them, it's about success. You have to have some success and for him, that was an issue."

Now, the issue for Knar is to find Andriola's replacement. Knar was in the same position three years ago and was under the gun to make a hire when his initial selection couldn't agree on terms after a lengthy negotiation. Knar revisited the candidate pool, which was nearly 70 deep, and Andriola wasn't hired until around March. Due to commitments with his previous school (Dundee-Crown), he wasn't able to implement his programming until June.

Making a hire sooner rather than later this time is a priority for Knar, who will consider both internal and external candidates and coaches with and without head coaching experience.

"We've already been getting applications, even though the job hasn't been (formally posted)," Knar said. "It will be on Friday and we'll take a look at the candidates. We want to have the first interviews during the week after Thanksgiving, second interviews the week after that, and then a hire made the week after that. We want this done before the (Christmas) holidays."

So what is Knar looking for?

"I might be biased, but I think we've got a good situation here with our football program so I think we'll get some really good candidates," Knar said. "We're putting together a committee and we'll be looking for coaches from successful programs. We want someone who will use our athletes to the best of their abilities and who can get the very best athletes in our school playing football.

"We want a coach who wants our football program to have a reputation as a class program, a hard-working program that mimics a community filled with very hard-working people."

As for Andriola, he says he's not done with football yet. Although, he is done with teaching.

He plans on leaving his post at Grant as a physical education teacher at the semester and retiring after a 34-year career in teaching.

But he would love to keep coaching high school football in some capacity.

"I love coaching and I have so much energy for it," Andriola said. "What's really weird is that I've never felt as good about my coaching as I do now.

"I feel really good about this change for myself. And we'll see what happens."

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