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PASSINGS: Foge Fazio

Foge Fazio, Pitt football player and later coach, dies at 71

December 04, 2009

Foge Fazio

Pitt player who became coach

Foge Fazio, 71, who succeeded Jackie Sherrill as football coach at alma mater Pittsburgh and later was a defensive coordinator for the NFL's Vikings and Browns, died Wednesday in Pittsburgh after a lengthy battle with leukemia.

Fazio played linebacker and center for Pitt and was chosen as the team MVP in 1959. He was drafted by the AFL's Boston Patriots in 1960 but soon thereafter moved into coaching. He spent nine seasons as a Pitt assistant, the final three as defensive coordinator, before being promoted to head coach in 1982.

Fazio's first Pitt team, quarterbacked by Dan Marino, began the season ranked No. 1 and started 7-0 but lost three of its final five as the Panthers' offense struggled. His 1983 team went 8-3-1, but he was fired with two years left on his contract after a 31-0 loss to Penn State in 1985.

Fazio was 25-18-3 at Pitt, including a 3-7-1 record in 1984.

After leaving Pitt, Fazio was hired as Coach Lou Holtz's defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. He also was an assistant coach with the Falcons, Jets and Redskins and was defensive coordinator of the Vikings (1996-98) and Browns (2001-02). He retired with Cleveland in 2003 but returned two years later as a Vikings defensive consultant under Coach Mike Tice.

Fazio also worked as a radio analyst on Pitt football broadcasts.

He was born Serafino Dante Fazio but was called Foge because of the way he pronounced the word "fudge" as a youngster growing up in Coraopolis, Pa., in suburban Pittsburgh.

-- times staff and wire reports

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