Rich Scangarello has an extensive history of coaching football.
Beginning at UC Davis as a graduate assistant in 1998, he's held seven different titles as a coach across 12 different schools, spanning 24 years. From quality control coach to offensive assistant, all the way up to coordinator, Scangarello has seen it all on the offensive side of the football.
With so many games under the belt, one may assume that someone like Kentucky's new OC would be burned out after all this time on the sidelines. Fortunately for the Wildcats, that's far from the case for Scangarello. In fact, the 50-year-old may be enjoying the game now more than he ever has.
"Honestly, I feel like I was put on this planet to teach, it's just my subject is football," Scangarello said. "I love it, i'm passionate about it, the game has slowed down for me, i've been around some incredibly good mentors that taught me a lot, and i'm applying that now. I just enjoy it, i've had more fun coaching here the last couple months than I remember having, ever."
Scangarello came to Lexington following the departure of Liam Coen, who left after one season to return to Los Angeles, becoming the new OC for the Rams in the NFL. Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops opted to stay in the NFL with his next hire in Lexington, bringing in Scangarello, who was the quarterbacks coach for the San Fransisco 49ers.
The NFL style of play-calling suited Kentucky's offense a season ago under Coen, and has already shown signs of being even better under the tutelage of Scangarello, as shown by Kentucky's gutsy display last Saturday in its win over Florida.
"We wore em out, I think. Our guys strained. I thought in the end, we were able to lean on them and create some space," Scangarello said about the win. "The backs were starting to get a little bit more space and were able to hit it a little more aggressively.”
Kentucky started off sluggish in The Swamp, and was lucky to enter halftime down by just a field goal. The second half featured a completely different side of the team that led to the Cats winning by two possessions.
Scangarello understood that his offense needed some time to find its footing. Even when it looked bleak at times in the first 30 minutes, his group never wavered.
“When you play complementary football, you have the ability to be patient and wear a team out and approach it that way,” he said. “It reminded me of calling a game in the NFL in that way, where it’s going to be a close game in a hostile environment. If you take care of the ball, eventually good things will happen if you stay with it.”
While he has seven years of experience as an NFL coach, it took just one night in a hostile SEC environment to prove to Scangarello that the thrill and the agony that associates itself with the conference is second to none, collegiate or pro.
"The euphoria after the game was probably as good a feeling i've had coaching that I can remember. Quite honestly it's just different in the SEC than the NFL," he said.
Once success comes as a coordinator for a high profile team in the SEC—which Kentucky has slowly become—other schools with eventual head coaching vacancies will come calling over the course of the season.
Scangarello has as much experience as anyone, and will likely become a "candidate" for gigs if the Wildcats continue to perform and meet expectations. While this may be the case, he isn't planning on leaving Lexington anytime soon. Behind a top-notch head coach, competitive recruiting classes and the right mindset, Scangarello could be in it for the long haul.
"It's my favorite part, I tell people i'm in no hurry to be a head coach, my favorite thing in the world is coordinating. It's fun, the strategy of it, getting guys to buy in, seeing them go make it come alive, Scangarello said. "I work for a really good man and a really good program. We coach guys like they're pro players, I know they're in college but I feel like we're gonna be able to recruit who we want because they're gonna want to play in the NFL and they'll see that, and it's gonna make us better too. I can't wait to be a part of this for a long time."
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