Chris Gbandi named UConn’s men’s football coach

STORRS, Connecticut – Former University of Connecticut men’s football star Chris Gbandi, who won the 2000 Hermann Trophy and led the Huskies to their third NCAA National Championship this season, will be UConn’s next men’s football coach, as announced by the sports director. David Benoit Friday. Gbandi becomes the ninth head coach in the history of the program and the third since 1969.

Gbandi returns to UConn after a six-year stint as the men’s football head coach at Northeastern and led NU to an overall record of 11-6-2 in the 2021 season. The 11 wins marked the fifth most wins in program history and the team’s No. 2 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship was tied for program best.

“Chris Gbandi is one of the best players in the history of our football program,” said Benedict. “But that ability is paltry compared to his caliber as a person and leader of young men. Our men’s football program is steeped in tradition and a source of pride for our varsity community and the State of Connecticut. UConn football is equipped for success and Chris is the right man to lead us to a bright future.

“Chris has accomplished everything as a player that the young men on our current squad, as well as the prospects we will recruit in the future, want to accomplish. His ability to communicate and communicate what it takes to reach these levels of success will provide him with a unique ability to hold individuals accountable to a standard that will result in team and individual success. Finally, Chris is a Husky. He’s bleeding blue! I’m confident no one will work harder than Chris to see that UConn men’s football is competing at the elite level that we expect from this program. ”

In the 2021 season, four Huskies finished the season in the top 10 on the CAA goals scored list and the three student-athletes who landed on the CAA All-Star team peaked in the league. Gbandi has led Northeastern to a place in the CAA tournament for three of the past four years, having resumed a program that was 3-12-2 in 2015.

Gbandi brings 11 years of coaching experience to Storrs and was associate head coach at Dartmouth from 2014 to 2016, assistant coach at Holy Cross from 2012 to 2014, and served on Ray reidUConn staff from 2011-12. His teams posted a 58-33-10 record during his tenure as an assistant coach.

“My family and I would like to thank David Benoit and the search committee for trusting me to lead this legendary program, “said Gbandi.” It is certainly a dream come true for me to have the opportunity to return to my alma mater and build on it. ‘legacy that my mentor Ray reid has established. UConn football has a rich history of success, and my goal is to recruit and develop the best student-athletes at a world-class institution that will ultimately bring another national championship to Storrs. ”

During his coaching career, Gbandi has helped his teams compete in three NCAA tournaments, including an appearance in 2011 with UConn. Additionally, Gbandi has coached two NSCAA-All Americans, one NSCAA-All Atlantic Region player and 10 All-Conference team winners.

Prior to his coaching tenure, Gbandi was a highly decorated player. First overall pick in the 2002 MLS Super Draft, he played eight years professionally for FC Dallas, Miami FC and FK Haugesund in the Norwegian division. Gbandi also made an appearance for the Liberian national team in 2004 and was named FC Dallas Defender of the Year in 2006.

Prior to his professional and coaching career, Gbandi was a key member of the UConn men’s soccer team from 1998-2001. A four-year letterter, Gbandi helped lead UConn to four consecutive Big East regular season titles. . He also led UConn to the 1999 Big East tournament and won UConn’s most recent NCAA Championship in 2000. Individual accomplishments include 1998 Big East Rookie of the Year, three-time Big East Defender of the Year, four caps. Big East First Team, and three All-America selections. He was the recipient of the Hermann Trophy as the best male college football player in 2000 and a finalist for the prestigious honor in 1999 and 2001.

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT CHRIS GBANDI

Ray reid
Former UConn Head men’s football coach
I’m so excited Chris is coming home. Chris is an exceptional head coach and an even better person who will serve as a tremendous leader and role model for our student-athletes. Winning is in his DNA, and we are extremely fortunate that he is leading this program in the future. I can’t wait to see his team play.

Alecko Eskandarian
Senior Director, Player Relations and Player Development for Major League Soccer
I have had the honor of working with Chris Gbandi on several college football related projects over the years and have the utmost respect for his drive and commitment to coaching. His background as a former player (in MLS, internationally and at UConn) gives him intimate knowledge of how to build a culture that breeds success. I have no doubts about his ability to recruit the best players from the academies who will carry on the traditions UConn football has established in previous decades and prepare young men for life beyond football.

Luchi González
USA Men’s World Cup Assistant Coach
Over the years, I have faced Chris at the college and pro levels. He was a tough and proven winner as a player and continues to be as a coach. With his competitive nature, leadership skills, and passion for scouting and recruiting, I have no doubts that he will do a first class job bringing and coaching elite student-athletes to UConn.

Jason kreis
Assistant coach of Inter Miami CF
Chris has a long and distinguished affiliation with the game in our country at all levels. He had a major impact on the game, made many interesting contacts, and helped develop top pros and men. He seems like the perfect fit to lead UConn’s distinguished college football program.

Max Zieky
UConn’s teammate and co-captain with Chris Gbandi
Chris is a fierce competitor who puts his teammates and players first. He epitomizes the culture at UConn where athletes go to graduate from world class and become a champion! I have no doubt that the committee made an exceptional choice in Chris and I know there are championships to come. The 2000 Championship team know firsthand that he is the right fit for the job and as captain and co-driver at the back I know he will WIN! Congratulations to Chris Gbandi, current players, administration and big fans of UConn Nation – LG!

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