Veteran coach Charlie Rizzo begins his second season on the Cougar coaching staff after arriving in 2006 from cross-town rival Rice. Rizzo coached the outside linebackers, and one of his standouts, senior Wade Koehl, was a Conference USA First-Team pick by the league coaches. Koehl also was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy and a semifinalist for the Draddy Trophy, awards that honor academics and community services as well as athletic prowess.
Rizzo recruits the Greater Galveston/Houston area as well as North Dallas.
Rizzo spent eight seasons in the Village coaching the Rice Owls defense, including assuming the defensive coordinator role this past year midway through the campaign. One of his star pupils, defensive end John Syptak, was named to the Conference USA First Team.
Since 1998, he has developed a host of talented defenders who have led the team both on and off the field. In 2003, linebacker Jeff Vanover returned from an injury the year before to lead the team in tackles. Rizzo coached him to second team All-Western Athletic Conference honors in 2002.
Before joining Rice, Rizzo spent six seasons coaching at former conference rival TCU where he worked with the Horned Frog linebacker crew. As a member of Pat Sullivan's staff, Rizzo first served TCU as the defensive line coach (1992) and later a running backs coach (1993) before assuming responsibilities with the linebackers (1994-97).
Prior to TCU, the 60-year-old Rizzo was in private business for two years after an extensive 18-year coaching career primarily on the East Coast and in the Southeast. Rizzo's last position before his coaching hiatus was as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech on Bobby Ross' staff in 1987-89.
In 1986, Rizzo was the defensive line coach for Steve Spurrier and the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL after five seasons as the defensive coordinator at Wake Forest, a season at William & Mary and six seasons at The Citadel. He also had coaching stops at Maryland and Utah.
A native of Daytona Beach, Fla., Rizzo graduated from Sea Breeze High, where he was a four-year letterman, team captain and an all-state selection. He was recruited by Auburn, where he played center and linebacker for the Tigers, advancing to the 1964 Orange and 1965 Liberty bowls. He would later work as a student assistant coach, where he was responsible for the defensive scout team. Rizzo graduated in 1967 as an ROTC Distinguished Military Student with a bachelor's degree in speech.
After leaving Auburn, Rizzo became an assistant coach for the Army Plebe team in 1967-68, which was coincidentally the two seasons immediately following Ken Hatfield's two-year tenure as a freshman assistant at West Point. Rizzo then was called to active duty in Vietnam (March, 1969-70), where he was promoted to captain.
Rizzo is a member of the Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston. He is also a long-time member of the American Football Coaches Association.
Rizzo has two sons, Brian (30) and Jason (27).