Nagy leaves, Hunt takes acting role

Acting head coach Vann Hunt in action during a game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2018.

Allegheny Football has a new head coach.
Richard Nagy left the position of head coach of the Allegheny football program, the college announcing on Friday, Jan. 20, that former defensive coordinator Vann Hunt has stepped in as an acting head coach while the college conducts a nationwide search for Nagy’s long-term replacement.
Nagy accepted a role as the defensive coordinator of the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks, who compete in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Level within the Patriot League.
“(Nagy) informed us that he decided to accept the position of defensive coordinator at Lehigh last week,” said Bill Ross, director of athletics and recreation. “Vann graciously accepted the role of acting head coach in a time where the athletes need him.”
Nagy, who started his term as head coach in 2019, leaves Allegheny with a 10-20 record in three seasons. This brings to an end Nagy’s second stint at the college, previously serving as the assistant and associate head coach during the 1990s.
The Meadville Tribune reported that Kevin Cahill, who was appointed head coach at Lehigh in December and is an old colleague of Nagy from their time at Murray State University, motivated him to accept the Division I job.
Ross admitted that Nagy’s decision came as a surprise to the football program, but that he wishes him success in the future.
“We had to take a minute and absorb the implications of (Nagy) leaving, but we have to think of our athletes first,” Ross said. “This is something that I’ve encountered a couple of times during my time at Allegheny.”
Nagy’s predecessor, William Hammer, left Allegheny in January 2019 just as Ross had assumed the role of interim director of athletics and recreation. Ross recalled this as a particularly challenging time for the football program.
“Although (Nagy) leaving is not something easy to deal with, the last time a coach left it was an even more fragile situation,” Ross said. “I was new to my role when Bill left and he also took most of the coaching staff with him except three coaches who decided to stay.”
Amongst the coaches who decided to stay for Nagy’s arrival was Hunt.
Hunt has been coaching college football for over 10 years and has coached in schools in Virginia and Illinois. Although most recently served as a defensive coordinator, he has ample experience coaching offensive football too during his coaching career.
The team’s relationship with Hunt is very positive and the players are looking forward to working together, according to Free Safety David Babb, ’25, who received an honorable mention in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference All-Conference Team.
“Coach Hunt is very well respected within the football program,” Babb said. “Not only is he a great coach, but also a great man, and the best thing about him is that he understands us not only as athletes but as men.”
Although Hunt is stepping into a role novel to him, he does not see the current transition between head coaches too differently from when Nagy arrived in 2019.
“Back then it was about doing the right things and especially keeping fit during the off-season and it doesn’t change now,” Hunt said. “Yes, the coach has left and the boys are recovering, but they know what is expected of them … the team is very coachable.”
Having six years of experience at Allegheny, Hunt believes that his nerves are calmer during this transition.
“The most important thing in this situation is that there is an amazing coaching staff and support system built around football that is making me feel calm,” Hunt said.
Ross added that apart from those directly involved in Allegheny’s football program, the football culture and support on and off campus are remarkable.
“Allegheny is football and we take great pride in our program … I think 10% of the student population currently is in the football program,” Ross said. “You can see how much football means to everyone by the support we get at games … a lot of alumni are also very invested and interested in Allegheny football.”
Ross believes that although the impact of the football program does put pressure on the school to find a new head coach quickly, proper time and dedication must be enacted to find a suitable candidate.
“There are many layers to finding a new head coach but the most important one is identifying honesty,” Ross said. “It can be a lengthy process because we don’t want to rush the decision and regret it later.”
A committee is being assembled to conduct the extensive, nationwide search for Allegheny’s new football head coach, according to Ross.
“We don’t know exactly how the committee will function but by the end of this week it will have started searching.”
Ross and Hunt agreed that coaching style and the existing football culture on campus are important factors to consider in the selection of a new head coach.
The football program’s focus does not simply end on the field of play but extends beyond and into the classroom and community due to Allegheny’s affiliation as a Division III school.
“(Division III) has a straightforward motto: academics first and football second … this is why we need someone who doesn’t just coach our players on the field but also motivates them to put their best foot forward on the campus as well,” Ross said. “We are very invested in how our athletes are performing as students and what sort of impact they have on campus life and the community.”
Offensive lineman Carson Messemer, ’25, who also received an honorable mention in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference All-Conference Team, believes that the football program at Allegheny helps players excel in all aspects of life.
“As freshmen, we were expected to attend study hall to make sure we were on top of our work,” Messemer said. “We’re also taught to work for each other on and off the field because our actions and commitments on and off the field determine everyone’s success, not just our personal success.”
Hunt said that he has been very impressed with how the team has absorbed and reacted to Nagy’s departure.
“We understand that a coach’s departure can be tough to deal with, especially with (Nagy) because he had a great relationship with the boys,” Hunt said, “but I’ve seen the team come together during this time and continue to put in the work in the weight room and even support other teams’ initiatives on campus.”
Babb said that the team is focused.
“Personally, I respect (Nagy) and the game of football so I understand that he had to move on, the team’s mood is also similar,” Babb said. “At the end of the day, we’re players and will do what’s expected of us no matter who’s giving the instructions.”
It is times like these within a team that leaders and initiative takers are identified, according to Hunt.
“This is just an example of the team facing a challenge together … and not just on the football field,” Hunt said. “In times like these, you can see your players’ qualities not just as athletes but people … I’m proud of the support system within the team right now.”
Although many have opinions on who the next head coach should be, the team needs someone who has a pure passion for football, according to Babb and Messemer.
“I live and breathe football, I need someone who does the same,” Babb said.
“(Nagy) loved football and was willing to give everything to us … that’s why we loved playing for him,” Messemer said. “I’m hoping someone who shares the same passion will come into the team, whether from Allegheny or outside.”