Early Thursday morning, the Columbia athletic department hired Pete Mangurian as its next head coach of football. The Lions hope that Mangurian, who has been involved in coaching at the collegiate and professional level for over 30 years, can reenergize and transform the struggling program.
“Pete Mangurian is an outstanding football coach,” M. Dianne Murphy, director of intercollegiate athletics and physical education, said in a statement released by the athletic department. “He brings tremendous experience with a plethora of impressive mentors, including Bill Arnsparger, Dan Reeves and Bill Belichick. He has worked in great organizations under Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos, and Robert K. Kraft, CC ’63 and owner of the New England Patriots. Pete’s experience speaks for itself.”
For Mangurian and Murphy this must have felt like déjà vu. Prior to coming to Columbia in 2004, Murphy served as the associate athletic director at Cornell from 1995-1998. In her final year with the Big Red, she took a leading role in the school’s search for a new head football coach. The final man left standing in that search turned out to be Mangurian.
Later that year, Murphy went to serve as the athletic director at the University of Denver.
Mangurian inherited a Cornell team that had a record of 16-14 (13-8 Ivy) in the three seasons prior to his appointment. In Mangurian’s first season, the Big Red finished last in the league with an overall record of 4-6 but a disappointing 1-6 record in the Ivy League. Over the next two seasons, the 56-year-old steered the Big Red to a 12-8 record. More importantly, the team improved to 10-4 in Ivy play, the best two-year conference record in Cornell history.
The athletic department chose Mangurian after a systematic and exhausting nationwide search. An advisory committee—which included Murphy, Associate Athletic Director and former football coach Ray Tellier, Kevin Ward CC ’74, Ted Gregory CC ’74 and Don Jackson CC ’73—met on Monday evening, the day after Norries Wilson was fired. This group identified the core characteristics the next coach needed to have.
These qualities included visionary leadership, head coaching experience, an ability to hire and manage assistant coaches, a high football IQ, and a background in a successful winning program.
In addition, this committee determined it needed to find an individual who had a systematic plan to find and recruit talented players who would be a good fit specifically for Columbia. After Mangurian’s interview, Murphy said, “It was very clear that he knew what he was going to do [in recruiting].”
From 1975-1978, Mangurian played defensive tackle for the Louisiana State Tigers. Immediately after graduating, Mangurian served as an assistant offensive line coach at Southern Methodist University under head coach Ron Meyer for two seasons. Mangurian served as the offensive line coach for New Mexico State (1981), Stanford (1982-83), and LSU (1984-87).
In 1988, Mangurian was hired by Denver Broncos head coach Dan Reeves to serve as the tight ends/half-backs coach. In 1990, he was promoted to coach the offensive line. Mangurian followed Reeves when the latter was hired by the New York Giants in 1993 and the Atlanta Falcons in 1997, and served as the offensive line coach at both franchises.
After his three years at Cornell, Mangurian left to rejoin Reeves in Atlanta. He returned to coach the offensive line but was promoted to serve as offensive coordinator from 2002-2003. After leaving the Falcons following Reeves’ firing, Mangurian remained in the NFL to serve as the tight ends coach of the New England Patriots under Bill Belicheck from 2005-2008. Mangurian left the Patriots to coach the offensive line for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2010.
The players who were involved in the coaching search were senior cornerback and captain Ross Morand, junior quarterback and captain Sean Brackett, and sophomore running back Marcorus Garrett. Prior to Mangurian’s hiring on Wednesday night, the three players met with Mangurian and discussed his football coaching philosophy.
Brackett, who was named the Lions’ Most Valuable Player at the team’s annual award ceremony this past Sunday, walked away impressed.
“He has a great track record,” Brackett said. “He’s been everywhere football is played—the Ivy League, the NFL, and college football. He’s coached a lot of good players. He’s been around a lot of great coaches. Everything he said made me relieved that we are getting the right guy for our football program going forward.”
While Mangurian steps into a program without a winning tradition, he must fill the shoes of a coach truly loved by his players. However, Murphy is unconcerned about this transition.
“I think every person has their own way of coaching and their management style,” Murphy said. “Do I think our players will have difficulty relating to Coach Mangurian? Absolutely not. Do I think coach Mangurian will have difficulty relating to our players? Absolutely not. When you win, people are happy. When you win, players want to play for you.”
Mangurian will be formally introduced as the Lions next head coach at a press conference in Faculty House at 2 p.m. this afternoon.