Tuesday, they got him back.
Rochester's old coach will be their new coach. Lilley will take over for Pat Ercoli in 2014, after Ercoli finished a lost season in 2013. Lilley coached the Rhinos in 2010 and 2011 and stepped away because he was tired of the pro coaching grind.
Lilley spent the last two years coaching with the Pennsylvania Selects, a top youth program.
When Jesse Myers was fired last May, Ercoli put a call into Lilley. It wasn't a fit for Lilley then, but both sides agreed to revisit the idea at season's end. When the year was over, Ercoli tried Lilley again and found the old coach had regained his "vigor" for leading a pro team.
"We were ecstatic because we felt he had done a good job for us two years ago," Ercoli said. "We hated to see him leave. He's the guy that can come back in, especially after having such a poor season this year, and can turn things around."
Lilley is ready for the challenge. "I'm excited for the opportunity to be back in Rochester," he said. "Looking forward to working with Pat, (owner) Rob (Clark) and the entire organization to help move the club in a positive direction. The loyal fans and city of Rochester deserve a winning team."
Lilley won coach of the year in Rochester in 2010 and won division titles in both his seasons. However, he only got the Rhinos past one round of playoffs. It's something that clearly stuck in his craw.
"He himself said, 'I need to come back there to finish something'," Ercoli said. "He feels that, together, we have something to prove still."
Lilley will officially get his chance November 1st, after completing obligations to his current team in Pennsylvania.
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