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Photo: Miami News, August 17, 1960

Fran Curci

Francis Michael Curci
Born June 11, 1938, Pittsburgh

University of Miami
5'9“, 155 lbs

Fran Curci was born in the Pittsburgh area, but sometime between 1946 and 1951 he moved with his family to Miami, where he first won fame as a multi-sport star at Archbishop Curley High. Noted for his “cool generalship and tremendous throwing arm” as a left-handed quarterback, he attended the University of Miami after high school. He became a three-year starter for the Hurricanes, save for a short stretch in his junior year after his team got off to a slow start. He rebounded well enough during his senior year of 1959 to make the Associated Press second-team All-America squad.

He was passed over in the draft by the NFL, but the AFL’s Minneapolis/St Paul franchise numbered him among their picks. After that franchise abandoned the league, the Dallas Texans, led by Curci’s old position coach at Miami, Hank Stram, quickly picked him up. The AFL awarded his signing rights to Oakland in March 1960, but the Texans still wanted him badly enough to trade tackle Dalton Truax for him in May. Curci competed with Cotton Davidson for the starting job there until a shoulder injury in the preseason sidelined him for the rest of the year.

Curci spent 1961 fulfilling a military obligation and led his Fort Eustis squad to a Missile Bowl victory over the Quantico Marines. Leaving his playing days behind, he entered the world of college coaching in 1962, starting as the freshman team coach at his alma mater before becoming the varsity receivers coach. He got his first head coaching job in 1968 at the University of Tampa, amassing a 25-6 record over three seasons. The University of Miami hired him away in 1971 and after two unremarkable seasons there, he accepted a job offer from the University of Kentucky.

He had some success at that basketball-mad school, but his tenure was also marked with a number of scandals, including recruiting violations, player misconduct, and even rumors of point-shaving. Curci’s 1976 Wildcats squad went 8-4 and thumped Rice, 21-0, in the Peach Bowl, but the team was slapped with a one-year probation by the NCAA the following year and were banned from bowl play despite finishing 10-1. Four subpar years followed, and his tenure ended acrimoniously after the 1981 season. Curci’s nine-year tenure as Kentucky coach was the longest in the school’s history until Mark Stoops passed him in 2022.

He spent the next few years in an unlikely variety of positions, including bank president, radio color commentary on college football, and a stint as the state of Kentucky’s Parks Commissioner. In 1985, the University of Tampa hired him as their athletic director while he also provided color for Buccaneers radio. He resigned from the school in 1989 and returned to coaching in 1991, leading the Tampa Bay Storm to an Arena Football League title. He coached the Arena League’s Cincinnati Rockers in 1992 then left the profession for good.

Curci returned to college football radio and continued to work in that field until the mid-2000s before retiring. He was inducted into the Tampa Bay Walk of Fame in 1995.


November 22, 1959 – Selected by Minneapolis/St Paul in the 1960 AFL draft.

January 21, 1960 – Signed by Dallas (AFL).

January 30, 1960 - AFL awarded his league signing rights to Oakland, potentially nullifying his contract with Dallas.

March 3, 1960 - AFL transferred his contract from Dallas to Oakland.

May 11, 1960 - Traded to the Texans for Dalton Truax.

See also

fran_curci.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/13 05:31 by ehaight