Thursday, December 3, 2009

Joe Gardi on Hofstra ending football

Just spoke to ex-Hofstra coach Joe Gardi, who oversaw the Flying Dutchmen football program’s emergence from Division III power to Division I-AA playoff contender. Here are his comments on today’s decision by Hofstra to drop football.

(On if he was surprised by this)

Nope. I’ve been expecting it for years.

(On why he expected it)

No comment.

Well, the phone’s been ringing off the hook. Had a player who I coached [who played for] the Buffalo Bills, Herve Damas. Herve called me from Europe, he’s in medical school and he was devastated. I think it’s a sad day in the Gardi household. I feel, personally, that my legacy is gone. And I thought it was a pretty good one. My daughter started crying. My wife started crying. It’s a sad day. But I’m not surprised.

(On if he has spoken to former President James Shuart)

I called him. I don’t think he was surprised. Jim was one of the first guys I called. I wanted to share my thoughts with him.

My biggest concern is Dave Cohen and his family and the coaches and their families and all the hard work and effort that we put into building Hofstra’s program. Somebody once told me, high up in the administration right now, that we put Hofstra on the map because we won before Jay Wright did. And I’d go to airports and meet an alumnus. In restaurants—one guy in a restaurant in Garden City thanked me for doubling the value of his education, his Hofstra degree, which was nice.

But I think about all the old players that we worked so hard. My old coaches, most of whom are doing extremely well now, they’re in the pros or somewhere. But we put a lot of hard work and effort into this and it’s a sad day.

I think all of Long Island should be concerned. It’s a sad day for Long Island. The days of Jimmy Brown and Long Island producing great football players might be gone.

(On if he thinks this is the beginning of a trend nationwide):

Well, I saw Dave Monday and I told him I was worried about that domino effect. Because they like to follow suit.

A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building a strong quality football program. I feel bad, as I said, for Dave and his family and the football staff, the players, the alums and the supporters for the program. Our former players and coaches should hold their heads high. It shouldn’t take away from their accomplishments and it shouldn’t take away from the fact we were responsible for putting Hofstra on the map first.

It’s hard to figure out which might have been our best year at Hofstra. But certainly, that ’90 team, we were Division III, had to be one of the most exciting, And then I think we had Gio Carmazzi for one year, we went 10-1. A lot of great times. When I retired, I was concerned that this would eventually happen. And I wonder if Northeastern hadn’t dropped football, whether Hofstra would have.

My thoughts today were for Cohen and his family and Joe Margiotta, who was one of my biggest backers and probably the biggest fan of Hofstra football. And you know Joe passed away. We gave so many young men an opportunity to have a great education and play football at a very high level. The fact that we were springboard for a lot of young men to go on and play pro ball makes me proud. I think we probably sent more kids from a I-AA team to pro ball. You know, for a lot of years, we sent more kids to the pros than a program like Rutgers. And we would have loved to have played those teams.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you Coach Gardi!

Chris Sellitto - '96-'98 said...

Coach was a great guy as all of you know and one hell of a Coach. This has been a terrible year for Hofstra Football and it saddens me that Coach left this world with a broken heart after giving all he had to this program.
R.I.P. Coach, you will be missed and forever in our hearts.