Masella, Cassano, and Coen Officially Named To Football Coaching Staff
Jan. 23, 2014
UMass football head coach Mark Whipplehas officially named three new members to his coaching staff as announced on Thursday afternoon. Tom Masella comes back to the program as defensive coordinator, while Mike Cassano rejoins the staff as the passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach. Former UMass great Liam Coen will re-join the Minutemen as the program's quarterback coach.
A former four-year starter at Massachusetts, Liam Coen is regarded by many as the greatest quarterback in school history. Coen had previously served as quarterbacks coach at Brown University (2010, 2012-2013) and Rhode Island (2011). He also spent time as a quarterback with the Alabama Vipers of the Arena Football League in the 2009 season.
In 2010, Coen helped Brown to a second-place finish in the Ivy League with a 5-2 record. Under his watch, the Bears maintained the Ivy League's top passing game, averaging 244.3 yards per game.
In his only season at URI, his first and second-string quarterbacks both ranked in the top 10 in the Colonial Athletic Association in total offense.
The Newport, R.I. native rewrote the record books during his time as a student-athlete. He holds nearly every career Massachusetts passing record, including most yards gained (11,031), highest passing efficiency (152.92), completion percentage (63.9), completions (830), attempts (1,303), and most touchdowns (90). Coen led the Minutemen to conference championships and NCAA playoff berths in 2006 and 2007, which included an appearance in the NCAA championship game in 2006. In total, he led UMass to a 36-13 record during his collegiate playing career.
During his career, he was honored with the Harry Agganis/Harold Zimman Award as the Outstanding Senior in New England Football. He was a two-time Walter Payton Award Candidate in 2007 and 2008 and was a 2008 All-CAA Second-Team selection.
Coen was the 21st quarterback in FCS history to throw for 10,000-or-more career passing yards. Among all-time FCS quarterbacks, Coen ranked 12th all-time in yardage and 14th all-time in touchdowns.
Prior to his playing days at UMass, Coen earned a number of accolades at La Salle Academy (R.I.). He was named Gatorade Player of the Year, Super Prep Magazine All-Region, and led La Salle to four consecutive Division I Super Bowl appearances. As a senior, he also received All-State honors.
He holds a Bachelor's degree from UMass in Communications.
A familiar face both on the UMass sideline and across from it, veteran Tom Masella rejoins the Minutemen in 2014 to take over as defensive coordinator.
Masella's coaching career spans over thirty years and nine different institutions, including a previous stint at Massachusetts as defensive coordinator under Whipple in 2002 and 2003. He has held head coaching duties at four different schools: Fairfield, Boston University, Central Connecticut, and Fordham with a record of 44-66 overall.
Masella spent his first tenure in Amherst helping the Minutemen to a resurgence in the Atlantic 10. In 2003, Masella's defense allowed an average of 22.7 points per game, recovered 18 fumbles, and made 27 sacks. That season, UMass finished with the 11th position in the Sports Network I-AA poll and a 10-3 record. Collectively between two seasons with the Minutemen, three of his players were named First-Team All-Atlantic 10. Four more received second and third-Team all-conference honors.
A 1981 graduate of Wagner College, Masella began his coaching career at his alma mater. He served the Seahawks in varying coaching capacities from 1982 to 1984. In 1985, he took over the defense at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, where he remained until 1989, also holding the role of assistant athletic director.
The 1990s saw Masella spend seven seasons in two stops at Boston University including as head coach in 1996 and 1997. From 1990-1994 he coached the Terriers' secondary and also served as defensive coordinator in 1993 and 1994. Between his BU stints, Masella was the head coach at Fairfield University, preparing the Stags for their first season of competition at the NCAA Division I-AA level.
After his time in Boston, Masella moved to the University of Connecticut for the 1998 season where he worked alongside current UMass Strength & Conditioning Coach Mike Golden. Masella coached the Huskies' secondary and also served as assistant head coach.
After his season in Storrs, Masella moved south to Louisiana Tech where he helped turn the Bulldog defense into one of the nation's top units. His 2001 defense ranked 11th nationally in interceptions and 13th in turnovers forced en route to the Western Athletic Conference Championship.
A two year stint as head coach at Central Connecticut was next with Masella helping the Blue Devils to a pair of NEC Championships in 2004 and 2005 - the school's first-ever football championships.
In 2007, as head coach at Fordham, Masella led the Rams to one of the greatest NCAA FCS turnarounds, taking that program from a 3-8 record in 2006 to an 8-4 campaign the following year. His 2007 season was also marked in part by a Patriot League championship and a berth in the NCAA FCS playoffs which ended with a loss at UMass in the first round.
At the end of 2007, he was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year as well as the AFCA Regional Co-Coach of the Year. Masella was also honored as the Bronx Sportsperson of the Year by the New York Daily News and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award which is presented annually to the NCAA FCS National Coach of the Year.
Following Fordham, the Staten Island native, returned for two seasons as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Wagner. In 2012, he helped the Seahawks capture the NEC Championship and advance to the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs.
Masella resides with his wife, Leslie-Ann. The couple has two children, T.J. (born July 25, 1996) and Jack (born January 12, 1999).
Mike Cassano returns to UMass after spending 2013 with Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets' assistant director of player personnel. Overall, he has 17 years as an assistant coach in the college football ranks including three other stops working with Whipple.
The Andover, Mass., native spent 1997 with Whipple at Brown before joining him for the next six years in Amherst. The pair worked together again during the 2010 season at Miami.
Cassano also spent time at Florida International, Eastern Michigan and Lehigh during his coaching career.
The graduate of New Hampshire (1994) has coached in five bowl games, three NCAA Tournaments and was a key member of UMass' 1998 NCAA National Championship run.
Prior to his time at Georgia Tech and Miami, Cassano spent the 2007-09 seasons at Florida International where he was the Golden Panthers' running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.
Before that he spent three years as a volunteer coach and an offensive graduate assistant where he played a major role in the success of the Hurricanes offense and running game. He coached in the 2004 and 2005 Peach Bowls, as well as in the 2006 Micron PC Bowl in helping the `Canes to an overall 25-12 record.
Cassano worked primarily with the running backs in 2006 as a graduate assistant, helping true freshman Javarris James set numerous Miami freshman records with a team-leading 802 yards on 175 carries. With Cassano's assistance in 2005, Miami's backfield scored 19 touchdowns and averaged 137.6 rushing yards per game.
In 2004, Cassano served as a volunteer assistant and helped the Hurricanes to 365.5 yards of offense and 31.7 points per game. That year's offense produced NFL draftees in wide receiver Roscoe Parrish (Buffalo Bills, second round), tight end Kevin Everett (Buffalo Bills, third round), running back Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers, third round) and offensive lineman Chris Myers (Denver Broncos, sixth round).
From 1998-2004 Cassano was running backs coach at UMass during one of the most successful times in the program's history. During his career in Amherst, UMass won the 1998 national championship and advanced to the NCAA playoffs in 1999 and 2003. In that stretch, the Minutemen also claimed three Atlantic 10 Conference titles.
His most distinguished student-athlete at UMass was Hall of Famer and former Arizona Cardinals running back, Marcel Shipp, who was a three-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award and three-time FCS All-American. Shipp was the sixth all-time leading rusher in Division I-AA history and holds the bulk of UMass' rushing records.
In 1997, Cassano coached the running backs at Brown after graduate assistant stints at Lehigh (1994) and Eastern Michigan University (1995 and 1996).
A native of Andover, Mass., Cassano was a two-year letterman at Colgate before transferring to New Hampshire where he earned two more varsity letters as a defensive back. He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from New Hampshire in 1994 and attended graduate school at Lehigh and Eastern Michigan.