The man who led the turnaround of Auburn’s football program is turning over the keys to one of his assistants. Dan Appino is stepping down as the head football coach of the Knights.
“It’s hard to believe that I’m 56 years old. I know that,” says Appino. “I’ve gotten to a point especially in the last year or two where I’ve been ready to transfer the program over to someone else. Like all things you’ve got to recognize when you don’t feel that same level of energy and enthusiasm and they (the players and assistant coaches) deserve that. “
Appino took on the challenge of leading Auburn’s program six years ago after winning back-to-back state championships at Boylan. He has more than succeeded at that challenge. In his six seasons the Knights were 43-20 and they made five playoff appearances. In the six seasons before he got there Auburn was 6-48 with no playoff appearances. So how did he turn things around?
“You say ‘you’, and 12 guys came in and had the same mentality and that’s essentially how we’ve done it. We’ve had good kids at Auburn over the years, but I don’t they they’ve ever had ten or 11 or 12 guys (coaches) kind of preaching the same message on the coaching staff working at the program not just three months out of the year, but 12 months of the year.”
Taking Appino’s place as head coach is his offensive coordinator JP Toldo. He’s worked under Appino since 2009 and he played under Appino at Boylan.
“I’m very excited,” says Toldo. “I’m really thankful for coach and the role that he has played in my life over these last ten years. I feel very honored to be the next head coach here.”
Toldo says he won’t stray far from the foundation that Appino has laid at Auburn.
“Obviously with the success and the process that coach has put in place you want to continue that.”
What is Auburn getting in JP Toldo?
“They’re going to get a guy who’s a high-integrity guy,” says Appino. “He’s going to go out there and put together a really sound schematic program in terms of Xs and Os, but more than that JP is really about doing things the right way and holding kids accountable.”
Appino says he might consider an assistant or volunteer coaching position on Toldo’s staff, but he wants the winter to recharge before he makes any sort of decision on that.