"Banaszak's Bunch" can get their old banners out of the attic. The big defensive lineman from the Super Steelers of the '70s has been named coach-in-waiting of the Robert Morris Colonials. John Banaszak, now assistant head coach, will succeed head coach Joe Walton after the 2013 season.
"I understand very clearly that Coach Walton is still my boss," Banaszak said at a January news conference. "But our relationship goes much deeper than that. He's a friend and a mentor. What he's accomplished in building this program is immeasurable, and I hope to continue the tradition of success that he created here."
Banaszak got his first of three championship rings with the Steelers his rookie season as a special teams player. The Eastern Michigan grad went on to earn two more as the team's starting defensive end. His highlight performance was Super Bowl XIII, a thrilling rematch against the Dallas Cowboys in which Banaszak sacked Roger Staubach twice and recovered a fumble, earning the honor of Defensive Player of the Game.
Before coming to RMU in 2003, Banaszak was head coach at Washington and Jefferson College, leading the Division III team to a 38-9 record. The Presidents' Athletic Conference, made up of mostly small western Pennsylvania colleges, named Banaszak Coach of the Year each of his four seasons at Washington and Jefferson.
Walton, who started RMU's football program in 1994, signed a two-year contract extension last fall that will give him 20 seasons with the team. He said the Colonials will be in good hands when Banaszak succeeds him. "He's a good football coach, and he's a good leader," Walton said. "I'm very confident that the success our program has had in the past will continue with him as head coach in the future."