In three years as Cornell’s head football coach, Peter Mangurian turned around a lackluster football program and made it a perennial contender for a league championship. Now he will try to do the same for the floundering offensive line of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Mangurian, who will rejoin mentor and long-time friend Dan Reeves in Atlanta, said he leaves Cornell with a “great sense of accomplishment.”
“[This job with Atlanta] is a tremendous opportunity. It’s too good for my family and myself to pass up,” Mangurian said last night from the Senior Bowl in Alabama, where he is already scouting college talent for the Falcons.
“The hardest part about this is leaving the other coaches and players [at Cornell],” he said.
In Mangurian’s wake looms a huge void that someone will have to fill. The search is in full swing for a new head football coach, with a possible decision coming as early as Friday. The athletic department has already formally interviewed six candidates for the vacancy, according to Anita Brenner, associate director of athletics.
“I think this could be wrapped up by the very end of this week or perhaps the beginning of next week, unless negotiations fall through or something else comes up,” Brenner said.
The Sun has learned the identities of two of those candidates. They are Andre Patterson, defensive tackles coach for the Dallas Cowboys and former defensive line coach at Cornell from 1990-91, and Hamilton College head football coach Timothy Pendergast, who was an assistant coach at Cornell from 1982-89.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Patterson has received permission from Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones to discuss the opening with Cornell. Patterson joined the Big Red football staff in May of 1990 after serving as defensive coordinator at Western Washington University. He is a 1983 graduate of the University of Montana, and does have previous head coaching experience at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo from 1994-96.
Intrigue and Uncertainty
Patterson told the Dallas Morning News earlier this week that he is intrigued with the idea of becoming the first African-American head football coach in the history of the Ivy League, but is unsure of whether he is prepared to leave the pro game for the college ranks.
One thing in Patterson’s favor could be that he coached with Peter Noyes while here at Cornell. Noyes, who is currently director of football operations for the Red, refused to comment last night on either Patterson’s candidacy or his previous years with the program.
Patterson was unavailable for comment last night. Like Mangurian, he has spent the last few days in Mobile scouting at the Senior Bowl in his capacity as a Cowboys assistant.
Pendergast was also unavailable for comment last night. In his stint on the East Hill, he rose to the position of recruiting coordinator, before moving on to various assistant coaching positions at Northwestern University, the University of Maine, James Madison University and the University of Memphis.
Pendergast became head coach at nearby Hamilton, located in Clinton, N.Y., last March. He led the Continentals to a 2-6 record last season. Hamilton managed only 49 points in eight games and one scrimmage last year, including being held to a field goal or less six times.
Having grown up in Syracuse, Pendergast has deep roots in the Central New York area. He received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Cortland in 1980 and earned a master’s degree from Ithaca College in 1981.
Mangurian stated no preference for his successor, emphasizing that he has not been involved in the search process. But he added that he has faith in whomever the athletic department chooses.
“[The athletic department] is going to do whatever it thinks is best for the program,” he said.
Even if a decision comes as soon as Friday, the next head coach will have little time to celebrate, as recruiting season is in full swing.
Archived article by Charles Persons