RMU football coaching candidate: Defensive Coordinator Scott Farison

With the recent resignation of RMU football head coach John Banaszak, RMU Sentry Media examines the candidates who could be the third head coach in the program’s history


Photo credit: Samuel Anthony

Ian Kist and Ian Kist

One name that comes to mind when thinking about who could take over the Robert Morris football program, and an option that athletic director Dr. Craig Coleman won’t have to go far to get, is current defensive coordinator Scott Farison. Farison has been with the Robert Morris football program for some time now, as the 2017 season marked his 16th with the program. Farison has been at the helm of the program’s defense for 11 seasons, served as the recruiting coordinator for 10 seasons and was rightfully promoted to assistant head coach by John Banaszak four years ago when Banaszak took over as head coach in 2014 after the Joe Walton Era came to an end. To go along with all of his titles and duties he has had while at Robert Morris, Farison is the longest-tenured coach on the current staff.

Many people believed that Farison was a good fit for the job back in 2014 to replace Joe Walton, but Banaszak was offered the job instead. However, Farison has bolstered his resume since 2014 throughout the John Banaszak Era at RMU and seems to be the clear front-runner to take over the deteriorating football program at Robert Morris. If Dr. Coleman is willing to hire in-house for the position.

While the team struggled offensively throughout the Banaszak Era, there always seemed to be a bright spot on the field each game, and that was the defense.

All of the rankings I am using to justify my reasoning as to why Fairson is a logical replacement for Banaszak are NEC rankings. Robert Morris football’s focus should be on winning in the NEC, because only the winner of the Northeast Conference receives a bid to the FCS playoffs.

Let us start with the 2014 season. It was not the greatest of years for the defense, but it was not terrible either. The Colonials did only beat one team that season, which within itself displays the entire team’s struggles that season. During the 2014 campaign, the Colonials defense finished fifth in pass defense, giving up 189.2 yards per game as well as having the worst total defense allowing 420 total yards per game. The Colonials defense that year was the fifth worst in opponent fourth-down conversion percentage with 42.9 percent. The defense, four seasons ago, did finish fourth in the NEC with an opponent third-down conversion percentage of 33.1 percent. However, three names on the team’s defense stick out as Jake Tkatch, Mike Stojkovic finished fourth and fifth in total tackles with 84 and 82 tackles respectively.

Coach Farison was at the heart and soul of one of the most dominant defenses in the NEC. Photo Credit Katey Ladika

2015 was by far Farison’s best season within the past four years. Farison’s defense improved to be the NEC’s third-best scoring defense. The defense finished second in pass defense allowing only 1892 yards. The team also finished second in total defense, allowing 321.4 yards per game. This is a two-spot jump in this category from the year before. Farison and his defense also finished second in pass defense efficiency as well as second in sacks with 33. The defense came in second in red zone defense but jumped from near the bottom of the conference rankings in opponent fourth and third down conversion percentage to first during the 2015 season. The 2015 defense was at the top of the conference rankings in the opponent third and fourth down conversion percentage with 30.9 and 33.3 percent respectively.

The defense as a whole clearly made necessary adjustments, and their numbers showed, but there were a few participants of that year’s defense that deserve some recognition as well as they displayed Farison’s work. Jake Tkach and Mike Stojkovic led the NEC in tackles with 93 apiece, Forrest Mason finished fourth in the conference in sacks with seven total, and Stojkovic was at the top of the forced fumbles list, leading that category with 3.

2016 was another season for Farison and his defense that can be highlighted as a season to look at closely even if his defense’s season rankings dropped. The team remained the third-best scoring defense with only giving up 266 points allowed and finished first in red zone defense with 71.1 percent. The team remained in the top two in third-down opponent conversion percentage with 32.6 percent. However, there were individual efforts that Farison was a part of that deserves recognition than the previous two seasons mentioned.

During the 2016 campaign, Adam Wollet finished fifth in tackles in the Northeast Conference with 89 tackles, and Joseph Uhatafe was not far behind with 81 tackles, good for eighth in the conference. Zach Cooper and Marcelis Branch tied for 13th in tackles with 71 each, and (freshman at the time) Gee Stanley finished within the top 25 in tackles at number 21 with 59 total. In addition, Gee Stanley and Joseph Uhatafe were one of three players in the NEC to finish the season with three forced fumbles, good for second in the forced fumbles category.

Farison has molded this defense over the past 17 seasons into the strongest part of this Robert Morris team.

To go along with those players mentioned that highlighted the 2016 defense, Farison added four All-NEC players to his recognition; Marcelis Branch, Ryan Lewis, Ryan Richards Jr. and Gee Stanley. It should also be noted that Marcelis Branch signed with the Atlanta Falcons after this past year’s NFL draft as an undrafted free agent.

I know what one can say: rankings and statistics are good and dandy, but can one be a leader for the team, which will be a big duty to fulfill and accomplish for whoever takes over the program at Robert Morris. I just focused on Farison’s statistics and rankings as the defensive coordinator but when discussing him being a leader if, given the head-coaching job, one has to look at all 16 years with the program. Farison was a part of the coaching staff when Joe Walton had the program at its prime; Robert Morris football was a powerhouse in the Northeast conference. That is the total opposite the past four years, and Farison, you would think, would take full advantage and do what he thought was best to guide the Robert Morris football program back to what it was.

When Dr. Craig Coleman sets out to search for the next head coach of Robert Morris football, he should make the small trek to the football offices at Joe Walton Stadium and speak with Scott Farison, as he should be a front-runner to take over the program he has been a part of for the past 16 football seasons.