It's a family affair for the Roccos in opener

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
5:00
PM ET
There is plenty of familiarity between the Virginia and Richmond staffs, set to face one another in the season opener Saturday.

You can add a player connection into the mix as well.

[+] EnlargeMichael Rocco
AP Photo/Alan DiazVirginia's season opener will be mean more to Cavs starting QB Michael Rocco thanks to all the familial connections.
Virginia starting quarterback Michael Rocco will try to beat his Uncle Danny, ready to coach his first game for the Spiders.

"I’m not quite sure the amount of family members and friends we’ll have but I’m sure it will be a lot," Rocco said during a news conference in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this week. "We’ll see at the end of the week, but it’s going to be a great weekend for my family. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be competitive and that’s the way it always is in the Rocco family."

There are enough connections between the staffs to make your head hurt. Danny Rocco spent time as an assistant at Virginia with current coach Mike London, before London left for Richmond. Then Rocco went on to become head coach at Liberty. Now here is London entering his third year with the Hoos, while Rocco takes over where London made his mark. There are various ties between the assistants on the staff as well.

Lots of six degrees of Kevin Bacon going on in this game. Well, actually, the connections are much closer than that.

"It is kind of weird to be on the opposite side, knowing you have friends on the other side," London said. "You have players that you sat in their homes and talked to them about the education and experience they'll have at Richmond.

"It will be a good game. Guys are excited about playing the game. We haven't won a game in two games, last two games. Looking to get that feel that comes with victory again and kind of start off with what we hopefully feel will be a productive season."

For the Roccos, football just runs in the family. Michael's brother, Chris, played at Liberty. His father, Frank Rocco Jr., is the head coach at a high school, Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Va. His grandfather, Frank Rocco Sr., was a long-time assistant at Penn State. Michael Rocco had a chance to play at Liberty, but took the scholarship to UVa instead.

His uncle played a big role in getting him there.

"A lot of my friends went to Liberty, my brother and sister both went to Liberty," Michael Rocco said. "It was a family school, but my uncle was one of the big helpers in getting me to pursue Division I football at the highest level. He encouraged me to play at the highest level I could. He was not pressuring me at all to go to Liberty. I felt no pressure to go there. I have a lot of ties there, but I wanted to go to the highest level I could."

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