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Photo courtesy Bob Cornell/Colgate University
Canajoharie native Dan Hunt speaks Tuesday during the news conference introducing him as the new head coach at Colgate University in Hamilton.

Photo courtesy Bob Cornell/Colgate University
New Colgate University head football coach Dan Hunt, left, watches his quarterbacks practice earlier this season.

Photo courtesy Bob Cornell/Colgate University
From left, new Colgate University head football coach Dan Hunt, his sons Ryan and Sean and his wife Susanne are pictured Tuesday at a news conference in Hamilton.

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Canajoharie's Dan Hunt is new head coach at Colgate

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - Updated: 8:22 AM

By ADAM SHINDER

For the C-S-E

When he was catching passes as a standout tight end at Canajoharie High School in the 1980s, Dan Hunt -- like any teenager --though about what he wanted to do with his adult life.

And while football was often a part of his plans, he never envisioned one day becoming the head coach at a Division I program located all of 63 miles from his hometown. Tuesday, that’s exactly what happened, as Hunt was introduced as the new head coach at Colgate University.

“It’s funny. Like every kid, I went through periods in my life where I wanted to do different things,” Hunt said. “I always loved football, I always loved my interaction with some of my high school coaches and college coaches. If you would’ve told me that I’d be ending up at one of the closest Division I colleges to my hometown -- other than probably (the University at) Albany -- I would’ve never believed you.”

A 1987 graduate of Canajoharie High School who went on to play college football at Division III Springfield College, Hunt had been a member of the staff at Colgate for 19 seasons -- the last eight as offensive coordinator and the last five as associate head coach. When head coach Dick Biddle announced his retirement after 18 seasons and 137 victories on the Red Raiders’ sideline, the transition to Hunt in the top job was a natural one.

“It really didn’t come truly into light until maybe two weeks ago, when it started to look like it was really gonna happen,” Hunt said. “Once Coach (Biddle) made up his mind, things moved kind of fast, but it was nice kind of knowing it was coming. I was able to prepare for it and it’s been really smooth.”

Former Fonda-Fultonville head football coach and athletic director Alex Mancini, who played football at Colgate and coached against Hunt when he played at Canajoharie, said he couldn’t have been happier for the coach or the program.

“I think it’s gonna be a great situation. I think he’ll step in and do an excellent job,” Mancini said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Dan, as do a lot of the other alumni that played football. He’s got good rapport with his players, he’s got great knowledge of the game of football.”

Former Amsterdam High School standout Vinnie Nicosia was a defensive back at Colgate from 2008 to 2011, and while he didn’t get much on-field coaching from the then-offensive coordinator Hunt, he said that as Biddle’s top assistant, Hunt was always available to the entire team.

“He always made his presence around for everyone on the team,” Nicosia said. “He was the offensive coordinator, but I knew him from around the area, so we knew a lot of the same people. Just as a coach, he was a motivator right alongside there with Biddle.”

Hunt joined the staff at Colgate in 1995 under Biddle’s predecessor, Ed Sweeney, after starting his coaching career at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany and spending two seasons as an assistant at Springfield. He initially served as tight ends coach and spent a season as the Red Raiders’ running backs coach before becoming the team’s quarterbacks coach and later offensive coordinator.

Under Hunt, Colgate’s offense was one of the most explosive units in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision and produced several players who were candidates for the Walter Payton Award -- the FBS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy --including 2003 winner Jamaal Branch.

What Hunt said he’s treasured most is the chance he’s had to work with Biddle, one of the nation’s most respected coaches and someone who’s made Hunt’s transition into the head coaching job an easy one.

“I’ve had one of the greatest coaches to ever coach at any level to show me the ropes and I’ve been able to learn from him, watch him do what he does and take in all of his knowledge and what he’s been able to succeed and spin it with mine,” Hunt said. “I’ve been lucky. At a place like Colgate, with the unique academic environment and the location, it’s nice to have already been here. There’s no learning the ropes with how things work here, I already know that, which is gonna make moving forward a lot easier.”

After being introduced at a news conference Tuesday in Hamilton, Hunt’s work had to begin immediately. He’s currently in the midst of the two-week period where he and his staff are able to visit and evaluate potential recruits, and he’ll spend all of next week on the road.

“For the next two weeks, it’s not moving into an office or doing any of that stuff,” he said. “It’s recruiting and making sure that we keep getting the quality players we’ve been getting.”

It’ll be stressful, of course, but it’s a stress Hunt is ready and willing to deal with.

“To be able to achieve that and be able to stay relatively near home is a dream come true,” he said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen, but I’m glad it has.”

     

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