January 19, 2001

C.U. Picks New Head Football Coach

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After a relatively short search period, the Cornell athletic department has named Tim Pendergast as its 24th head football coach. Pendergast, who is the current head football coach of the Hamilton College Continentals, will replace Pete Mangurian, who left the Red for the Atlanta Falcons just 12 days ago.

Pendergast will be formally introduced to the Cornell community at a press conference today at 1:30 p.m. in Schoellkopf Hall.

Pendergast, 42, has been head coach at Hamilton for only a year. In his lone season in Clinton, N.Y., he posted a 2-6 record, though it should be noted that Hamilton’s all-time win loss record since 1950 is 166-223.

Despite limited head coaching experience, Pendergast has logged plenty of time at a number of assistant coaching positions. He began his career at Cornell, first as a secondary coach and head freshman coach before becoming Cornell’s recruiting coordinator. He was wide receivers coach with Northwestern University, secondary coach at the University of Maine and defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at James Madison University.

Associate athletic director Anita Brenner spoke highly of Pendergast’s ability to coach as well as his fondness for Cornell.

“This job is Pendergast’s dream,” Brenner noted. “Since leaving Cornell he’s always dreamed of coming back.”

Director of Football Operations Peter Noyes, who coached with Pendergast for a number of years while both were assistants at Cornell, beamed about the new coach as well.

“He’s a great coach, a great person and is very enthusiastic,” said Noyes. “He’s got an intensity about him. He’s a motivator.”

What both Brenner and Noyes talked about most prominently was Pendergast’s capacity to recruit. This will be especially important since the recruiting season is in full swing and Pendergast is already a step behind.

Noyes doesn’t believe Cornell will suffer however.

“I don’t think we will miss a beat,” he said. “He comes in as a great recruiter.”

Despite Pendergast’s proven recruiting record, Cornell’s immediate future is nonetheless up in the air.

Defensive coordinator Greg Gigantino says the full effects of Cornell’s late start in the recruiting game will not be determined for some time.

“We won’t know the effect [of the late start] for a week or two,” Gigantino said. “[The current assistant coaches] all chipped in and did our parts [to begin the recruiting process].”

Gigantino and the rest of the staff will not know their fates until next Monday, when Pendergast will meet with each of them. It is unknown right now whether Pendergast will retain most of Mangurian’s staff or bring in his own people.

The coaches were not the only ones to learn of the decision yesterday. The players were told of the athletic department’s decision in an afternoon meeting as well.

Junior place kicker Peter Iverson said that the reaction from the players was mainly positive.

“We’re really excited,” he said. “The locker room attitude overall is good.”

Most importantly though, Iverson stressed that no matter who was at the helm, the players were focused on their goal of becoming Ivy League champs next year.

“We’re still hungry for a championship,” Iverson said. “If [Pendergast] comes in with that attitude, we should get along fine.”

The Sun first learned of Pendergast’s candidacy yesterday, when it was confirmed that two of the front runners for the position were the Syracuse native and Andre Patterson, the current defensive tackles coach for the Dallas Cowboys and a former Cornell assistant coach himself.

Speculation that Pendergast would be the next head coach reached a crescendo early yesterday when it was learned that Patterson had removed himself from the list of potential candidates.

“I came out of [the selection process] today,” Patterson told The Sun yesterday afternoon. “It was my decision.” He cited a desire to continue coaching at the pro level as one of the big factors for his self-removal from the process.

Had he been selected head coach, Patterson would have been the first African-American to serve in that capacity at an Ivy League institution.

Archived article by Charles Persons