Paul Tortorella enters his Third season as the head football coach at IUP in 2019 after guiding the program to a 21-4 overall record in his first two years at the helm of the IUP Football program. In Tortorella's first two seasons as the head football coach, IUP has won the PSAC Western Division, the PSAC Championship, and won the Super Region 1 Championship for the first time since 1999.
Since coming to IUP, Tortorella has directed a defense that has consistently ranked among the best in the nation. His extensive knowledge of schematics and personnel has made him one of the most respected coaches in the area.
In 2016, Tortorella guided an opportunistic defensive unit that ranked third in Division II with 24 interceptions and 35 caused turnovers. IUP’s six total defensive touchdowns was tied for sixth in the country, while its .674 defensive red zone percentage was 20th.
For six straight games the Crimson Hawks limited opponents to 20 points or less, with high-scoring rival Slippery Rock finishing with just 19 in IUP’s blowout mid-October victory. First round playoff opponent Fairmont State, which had a 10-1 record and averaged 30.0 points in the regular season, was limited to just 13 points by Tortorella’s crew.
In 2015, the Crimson Hawks finished the year ranked in the top 12 in six defensive categories – scoring, interceptions, turnovers forced, red zone, third down percentage, and touchdowns – finishing with a 9-3 overall record.
The Crimson Hawks advanced to the postseason in each of the last two seasons, combining for a 19-5 overall record.
2012 was one of Tortorella’s best seasons, as he was named the NCAA Division II Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop. Under Tortorella’s guidance, IUP led the nation in total and scoring defense, while also ranking third in rushing defense, during a season in which the Crimson Hawks won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship, and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals with a 12-2 record.
The Crimson Hawks gave up just 257.9 yards and 12.5 points per game, recording three shutouts and holding opponents to 10 points or fewer four additional times. IUP gave up an average of 80.1 rushing yards per outing, holding opponents to less than 100 yards nine times during the season. Offenses managed just 2.6 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns in 439 carries.
The passing defense was also tough to crack, as IUP finished 17th in the nation by giving up 177.8 yards per game and 14th with a defensive pass efficiency of 101.85. Nine times quarterbacks failed to complete 50.0 percent of their passes against the Crimson Hawks, including each of the last four games. IUP racked up 20 interceptions and gave up just 14 touchdown passes.
IUP also ranked first in opponents first downs (14.4 per game); second in turnover margin (+1.50 per game); 12th in turnovers (35); tied for 27th in red zone efficiency (68 percent – 21 scores in 31 trips); and 32nd in third down defense (33.9 percent – 64-for-189).
Since Tortorella’s first season with the program in 1995, 15 IUP defensive players have earned All-American honors, while 107 have been named to All-PSAC West teams. Four players have been named PSAC Defensive Player of the Year under Tortorella, with two freshmen earning conference rookie of the year accolades.
IUP compiled a record of 177-69 (.720) during Tortorella’s 22 seasons leading the defense, as the program won nine outright or shared PSAC West regular season titles and earned 10 NCAA playoff berths.
Tortorella got his coaching start on the prep level in 1985, serving as linebackers coach at Mount Lebanon High School. He then began a nine-year stint as an assistant coach at a pair of Division I universities, including six at Maryland and three at Akron.
He joined the Maryland staff as a graduate assistant working with linebackers and the secondary from 1986-87 followed by one year as a volunteer assistant secondary coach. In 1989, he was hired on a full-time basis as special team’s coordinator and tight ends coach, and he added halfbacks to his list of responsibilities in 1990.
In 1992, Tortorella departed Maryland for Akron, where he coached defensive backs through the 1994 season before joining the IUP staff.
During his career, Tortorella has coached two players who went on to successful NFL careers. Defensive back Victor Green (Akron) played with the New York Jets from 1993-2001, the New England Patriots in 2002 and the New Orleans Saints in 2003 while tight end Frank Wycheck (Maryland) retired after the 2003 season following an 11-year pro career which saw him catch 505 passes.
Three IUP cornerbacks have earned All-America recognition during Tortorella’s time at IUP, including Barry Threats (1997 and 1998), Joey Flora (2001) and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (2008 and 2009).
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