Bob Surace '90, a key member of
the 1989 Ivy League champion Princeton football team, will be entering his third year as the
Charles W. Caldwell Jr. '25 Head Coach of Football at Princeton University when the 2012 season opens. He was hired on Dec. 23, 2009, by Princeton Director of Athletics Gary Walters '67.
Surace had been an assistant coach for the Cincinnati Bengals for the prior nine
seasons and helped the team to an AFC North title in 2009.
"I'm so excited about coming back
to a place that is so special to me," Surace said on his hiring. "I was honored to be a
player here, including being part of an Ivy League championship team. I look
forward to being the head coach and making this a special place for our
student-athletes here at the best university in the world."
Surace has been given the responsibility of rebuilding the Princeton football program, and he has seen some impressive performances from his first two recruiting classes. Leading that charge is 2011 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Chuck Dibilio, who rushed for more yards (1,068) than any other true freshman last season. Princeton had the top rushing offense in the Ivy League in 2011, and the Tigers have had 16 All-Ivy League players in Surace's two seasons.
The 22nd head coach at Princeton,
Surace was a first-team All-Ivy center when he helped the 1989 Tigers to a 6-1
league mark and a share of the Ivy title. In addition to his tenure with the
Bengals, Surace was also the head coach at Division III Western Connecticut
State University, where he put together an 18-3 record in 2000 and 2001.
"We are thrilled that Bob Surace
will be our new head coach, Walters said. "He has experience as a player here
at Princeton, as well as in the NFL and as a college head coach. He is also a
product of and a believer in the Princeton concept of education through
athletics. We will work with the Bengals to accommodate what works best for
them and for Princeton through the end of their season."
"suh-RACE") had served as assistant offensive line coach for the
Bengals for the last six years of his time with Cincinnati; prior to that, he served two seasons as an
offensive staff assistant. In addition to his work with the line, he played a
key role in the entire offensive staff's game preparation. In 2009, that
offense helped the Bengals to a 10-6 record and a sweep of their AFC North
rivals, including the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Under Surace's leadership, Western
Connecticut advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship
and won the Freedom Football Conference title in 2001; the win in the NCAA
playoffs was the first in school history. In 2000, the Colonials won the
Northeast Championship ECAC playoff game. In both of Surace's seasons, the team
ranked in the top 25 nationally in the American Football Coaches Association
Surace grew up in a coaching
family. His father, Tony, was head coach for his high school football and
baseball teams in Millville, N.J.
Surace began his coaching career
in 1990 as running backs coach at Springfield (Mass.) College, where he also
earned a master's degree in sports management in 1992.
In 1994, when the Canadian
Football League fielded teams in the U.S., Surace was with the Shreveport
Pirates as the assistant to head coach and general manager Forrest Gregg, the
former Bengals coach who guided Cincinnati to Super Bowl XVI.
His wife, Lisa, was a four-time letterwinner in women's soccer at Princeton and is a member of the Class of 1992. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is now the Lower School Head at Princeton Day School.
They have a daughter, Alison, and
a son, A.J.
Surace is part of one of the richest
traditions in all of college football. Princeton was involved in the first
college football game ever played on Nov. 6, 1869, and has played a total of
778 all-time games with an all-time winning percentage of .675 and five former head
coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame: William W. Roper, Fritz Crisler,
Tad Wieman, Charles W. Caldwell, Jr. and Dick Colman.