Gator football welcomes 35th program head coach

Nagy returns to Allegheny after time in Division I football

Brian Hill/The Campus
New Head Football Coach Rich Nagy speaks during a press conference Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in the Patricia Bush Tippie Alumni Center.

Gator football has improved its record from a winless season to a 6-4 winning season in fall 2018. As the team moves forward, players will be led by new head coach Rich Nagy, who hopes to continue this success by bringing 32 years of coaching experience to Allegheny.

Allegheny hosted a press conference Friday, Feb. 15, to welcome Nagy as the program’s 35th head coach.

“His love for the game is only surpassed by his love for his family, his community and the young men that are so blessed to call him coach,” said Bill Ross, interim director of athletics and recreation. “It is clear after spending time with him during all this that he is the real deal and he is the right choice for Allegheny College.”

Nagy’s decades of experience include time at both the Division I and the Division III levels. He began his career as a part-time assistant coach at his alma mater Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was a running back from 1983 to 1986 as well as most valuable player in 1986.

According to Allegheny President Jim Mullen, Nagy has “roots in the Allegheny coaching tree.” After holding positions at two other colleges, Nagy returned to Allegheny from 1992 to 1997 to serve as associate head coach and special teams coordinator/linebacker coach. During that five-year tenure, Nagy helped lead the Gators to a 46-7 record.

Nagy has since held positions as defensive coordinator at seven other schools. Most recently, Nagy served as defensive coordinator at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Nagy’s contributions to the ODU Monarchs included a first-team All-Conference USA selection in each of the past three seasons and a win over No. 10-ranked Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

“Though his recent career has been mostly at the Division I level, his heart belongs to Division III football,” Ross said.

Nagy echoed Ross’s statement, expressing his fondness for Division III football and for Allegheny in particular.

“The thing that really stuck out to me was Allegheny’s the same place I remember,” Nagy said. “The biggest thing about it was it’s a great school, but it’s made up of special people.”

Nagy said the most important part of Allegheny is the community’s commitment to fostering a rich student experience.

“It’s more than just the football experience, and it’s more than just going to class,” Nagy said, emphasizing his belief in the importance of taking advantage of the variety of opportunities available to college students.

Nagy said he is eager to lead the current roster and cultivate player success both as students and as athletes.

“They’ve really banded themselves together and took charge of their destiny,” Nagy said. “You can see the types of leaders that you have here.”

It is the bond with those players and their families that Nagy said he missed during his time in Division I football coaching.

“The biggest thing that got me really excited about being here is when you get to that level, when the game’s over, the game’s over,” Nagy said. “Everyone goes home. Here, there’s a lot more interaction with the families.”

Nagy said he realized this interaction was missing from his coaching experience when he visited his daughter at her Division III college and experienced that sense of community again. After that visit, Nagy said, he was on the lookout for an opportunity to make a change.

“I grabbed my wife and I said, ‘You know all the things we’ve talked about? Well, the Allegheny head job’s open,’” Nagy said. “It took us about two seconds to say ‘Okay, let’s go try to get that.’”

Nagy said he also wanted to “get back to coaching me,” explaining that he was a first-generation college student. Unlike the athletes he coached at ODU and other Division I schools, his athletic experience did not have “professional goals” of entering the NFL. Instead, it was part of a broader education meant to prepare him for life after college.

Nagy is eager to face upcoming seasons, saying that he is most anticipating the moment in which he and the Gators leave the locker room for the first time in the season.

“The goal is going to be to win the conference,” Nagy said. “That’s the end goal. It’s also just going to be to get to work and work to get better every day.”

Nagy also plans to prioritize the community while he is at the helm of Gator football.

“I’m really excited to get started here and combine last season’s success with the history and tradition that’s been a part of Allegheny football to produce a program that not only the Allegheny community but the community of Meadville will be proud of,” Nagy said.

The mentality Nagy employs as a coach in order to achieve these goals is founded on the idea of daily improvement — an idea he says is applicable at all levels of the sport.

“At the end of the day, football is football,” Nagy said. “It’s all the same, and it’s all relative. You’re really trying to find the same things. You’re trying to find people who love football, people who want challenges, and people who want to be successful in life.”

The desire for success is also crucial to Nagy, who shared a story about learning the importance of loving what you do at the press conference.

“I’m always trying to find people who want to be successful,” Nagy said. “I think if you surround yourself with those types of people, you’re going to be successful. Success isn’t ordinary. I’ve learned that part.”

As far as Mullen and Ross are concerned, Nagy, and his own success, is far from ordinary, and they are hopeful for the future of the Gator football program.

“He understands the centrality of academics, and he believes deeply in competitive excellence on the football field,” Mullen said. “Allegheny has a proud football tradition and a solid foundation for its future and a great new coach to lead us into that future.”