December 3, 2003

A Significant Job Search

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Eight days ago, I arrived at The Sun’s offices to find an e-mail notifying the media that Tim Pendergast had been terminated as Cornell’s football coach. While my immediate reaction to Pendergast’s firing was “Oh no! I have to work!,” I soon came to realize the greater importance of the development and began to ponder its consequences.

After three years and only seven wins, Pendergast was out of one of the highest profile jobs in the Cornell athletic department. He was one of the nicer people I’ve had the privilege of working with during my time with The Sun’s sports staff, and I felt bad for him as a good person who had just lost his dream job.

I then began to think more about the ramifications on the football program. I considered the national search for a replacement that was about to begin, and got excited for the future of Cornell football.

This search holds a lot of promise of promoting what is good in college athletics. Hopefully, the Cornell athletic department will be successful in its quest to bring in an individual who has the best interests of his student-athletes in mind — someone like men’s hockey coach Mike Schafer ’86, men’s basketball coach Steve Donahue, men’s lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni, or women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Graap ’86 — someone who understands the importance of developing a winning program while recognizing the athletes’ need to excel in the classroom.

Cornell needs a coach like Tim Pendergast, except one who is better able to deliver the results on the field.

Sad as it is when someone loses his job, the fact of the matter is, Pendergast did not produce. When you don’t produce, you job security does not go all that far. Hopefully, Pendergast’s replacement will have better luck returning the Red to its former status as an Ivy power attained in the late 1990s.

But the task will not be easy. Cornell’s 25th football head coach will inherit a team desiccated by injury. Several key players missed substantial time this season while many others were slowed by other bangs and bruises. Midway through the season, Pendergast acknowledged that depth was becoming a problem for this Red team.

But the talent on the roster is great, and even though the next Red head coach will be leading a squad brought in by someone else’s staff, the potential is still there for the Red to make a statement next year.

Cornell’s new coach will be subject to tremendous scrutiny when he arrives on the Hill in the next several weeks. What he is able to contribute to the Cornell football program will likely not be known for some time. One thing is for sure, though. No matter who the Red’s head man is, he will have an opportunity to make an impact that few others enjoy.

Owen Bochner is a Sun Assistant Sports Editor. In the O-Zone has appeared every other Wednesday this semester. This is Owen’s 200th article in The Sun. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Archived article by Owen Bochner