Utica College Head Football Coach Blaise Faggiano announced two new hires and one promotion within the Pioneers coaching staff on Friday. Jim Kramer accepted the position as the new offensive coordinator while Marcus Gurdineer '10 was promoted to offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Ben McKaig was also hired as a graduate assistant in charge of the defensive line.
"We couldn't be happier to have Coach Kramer join our football family. He's a family guy. He's also a teacher and a leader – that's what we were looking for," said Faggiano of his new offensive coordinator. "Throughout the process we needed to find the right guy to lead half of our football team and we are confident that we found a good fit."
Kramer comes to Utica from Schenectady High School where he has spent the last four seasons as the head football coach of the varsity program. He guided the Patriots to four straight playoff appearances and most recently he was named the Section II Class AA Coach of the Year. He leaves Schenectady as the winningest coach in program-history. While at Schenectady he also taught physical education and he was the faculty manager of athletics. As the faculty manager of athletics he was responsible for scheduling athletic contests, acting as a liaison for eligibility and transportation, organizing preseason coaches' meetings and supervising athletic contests.
Kramer played four years of collegiate football as a wide receiver at Springfield College where he guided the Pride to two Freedom Football Conference Championships and two NCAA playoff appearances in 2000 and 2002. He graduated from Springfield in 2003 and immediately joined the coaching staff as a graduate assistant.
Faggiano also spoke about the promotion of Marcus Gudineer to offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. "It's with great pride that I talk to you about Marcus Gurdineer. One of the greatest pleasures in coaching is when someone that you have coached decides to get into the profession. Marcus really bleeds blue and orange and he has done a great job for us, not only as a captain and a player, but also as a coach over the course of the last three years."
Gurdineer joined the Utica College football coaching staff in the Summer of 2010 as a graduate assistant and has coached the defensive line, while taking on duties as an assistant strength and conditioning coordinator for the student-athletes. During his coaching tenure at UC he has also spent time as the program's academic coordinator.
Gurdineer was a three year starter at left guard on the offensive line at UC. He played all four years and was a two-time recipient of the Offensive Lineman of the Year Award. He was named a captain in his senior season and anchored an offensive line that helped the Pioneer offensive unit break several single-season school records. He graduated from Utica College in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in English.
Kramer and Gurdineer will combine to lead the Pioneers' offensive unit that broke 19 different team-records last season including: pass attempts (414), pass completions (274), passing yards (3,404), passing touchdowns (33), pass completion % (66.2), total offensive yards (4,650), touchdowns responsible for (79), total offense per game (465.0), total offense per play (6.30), all purpose yards (5,600), all purpose yards per game (560.0), pass reception yards (3,404), pass receptions (274), pass reception touchdowns (33), receptions per game (27.40), pass efficiency (156.2), average yards per pass (8.2), and average yards per game (340.4).
"I believe in playing fast, uptempo football with the ability to run and pass. Ultimately we are going to put the ball in a lot of different people's hands and expect them to make plays, said Kramer of his offensive philosophy. "We're going to be simple but diverse and at the end of the day we are looking to put points on the board."
Gurdineer is excited to be back on the offensive side of the ball again after spending the past three years with the Pioneers' defensive line.
"Being an alum and a former offensive lineman, I'm really looking forward to getting back on that side of the ball and working with the offensive line. I always look at the offensive line as being half of the offense and that's a big responsibility."
Kramer, who is originally from nearby Oneida, NY, spoke about how he is excited to come home and join the UC family, "I'm from this area and I have a great amount of pride in that, but I think the most common message I heard from multiple people about Utica College is that the community here cares about individuals. They want to be people first and coaches second, and I want to be a part of that. I'm really excited to have the opportunity."
After tying the school-record with a 6-4 season in 2012, the common theme among the coaching staff seems to be that the Pioneers are prepared to make the next step.
"It's exciting to be around a great staff and a great group of student-athletes. Having been around the program for eight years I've had the fortune of watching it really grow," said Gurdineer. "Seeing the progress of the program makes me really proud and moving forward I'm hoping to help us make the next step."
McKaig has spent the last year as an assistant football coach at Andover High School and he also assumed a role as a coaching intern at his alma mater of Emporia State. He coached the offensive and defensive lines at Andover last year and guided the squad to an 8-3 overall record and an appearance in the State Football Playoffs. He graduated from Emporia in May of 2012 after spending four years as a student-athlete with the Hornets football program. In 2010 he was an All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Undergraduate Award of Excellence recipient and he was also the Outreach Chairperson for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Since August of last year he has also taught Mathematics at Andover High School where he has been responsible for designing, adapting and implementing plans to meet student needs and optimize learning in the class room.
Last season UC tied for the school-record for wins in a single-season (6) and set a new record for Empire 8 Conference victories (4). The Pioneers had a legitimate shot at an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament as they played nationally ranked Salisbury in Week 9 with a chance at the Conference title hanging in the balance. Headed into their week 9 contest the Pioneers were receiving votes in both the AFCA and D3football.com national polls for the first time in program-history.