When Penn sprint football takes the field next season, the team will be doing so without coach Bill Wagner. After 50 years with Wagner at the helm, the Quakers are turning to offensive coordinator Jerry McConnell to take over the program, as announced by Penn Athletics on Tuesday.
“I am incredibly pleased that we are able to continue the amazing legacy that Wags has built for the sprint football program by hiring his long-time assistant Jerry McConnell," Penn Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun wrote in a statement. “Jerry has a deep appreciation for what the sprint football program means to the student-athletes and alumni in addition to his coaching acumen developed at several different levels of high school and collegiate football."
McConnell becomes the 16th head coach in program history after serving as Penn's offensive coordinator since 2007.
“I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to follow Wags in leading the Penn sprint football program," McConnell wrote in the joint statement. “I would like to thank Dr. Grace Calhoun and (sport administrator) Brad Fadem for this incredible opportunity. From the moment I joined Wags here at Penn and became part of his staff, I knew this was special; coaching kids who play for the love of the game and seeing the relationships he has developed with his former players."
During McConnell's 12 seasons coaching the offense, the Red and Blue had 105 offensive players receive an All-Collegiate Sprint Football League selection, as well as two CSFL Most Valuable Players — running back Mike Bagnoli in 2010 and quarterback Mike McCurdy in 2015 and 2016.
“Jerry fills the position as head coach of our sprint football team with a great deal of integrity, loyalty and superior coaching knowledge of what the sport represents: ‘playing football for the love of the game's competition,'" Wagner said in the statement. “The Penn sprint football program has a leader who will guide the team forward with great success for many years into the future. Jerry has done a tremendous job developing relationships with all his players, which is evidenced by how much the current, and former, student-athletes adore him.
Prior to joining Wagner's staff, McConnell was the head coach for three seasons at Holy Cross High School in New Jersey, where he finished with a 26-8 record and won two conference titles.