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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Bob Pagel resigns as head football coach

<b Pagel, the head coach of the Carleton football team, announced his official resignation.

Beginning his Carleton career in 2006, Pagel served as an assistant coach for seven seasons. During three of those seasons, he served as a defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator. In the spring of 2008, the football program promoted Pagel to defensive coordinator, and the following fall, the Knights finished the season with an impressive 7-3 record. Pagel became the associate head coach in 2010. He then became the interim head coach in 2012, and the program proceeded to remove the interim tag after completing the 2012 season. For the duration of Pagel’s coaching career, the Knights were 12-48 overall and 6-42 in MIAC play. After resigning, Pagel said he will be pursuing other opportunities.

In helping lead the Carleton football program, team captains Nick Fredrickson ’18 and Dane Birkland ’18 both spoke highly of their experiences with Pagel and the contributions he made to the program.

“Coach Pagel was a very good football coach; he cared very much about the program and fought for us every day of the 13 years he was here. The enthusiasm and love he has for the game allowed players to have fun playing the game, while competing at a high level,” Fredrickson said.

Pagel had many positive aspects to his coaching style that his players admired, including his very direct approach. “He was always very honest with us, and was until the last day. You know whatever was coming out of his mouth was the truth. If we had a bad practice, you knew. If you didn’t do your job on a play, you knew. There’s no hiding on the field, and if you don’t do your job, someone else is always right there to replace you,” Fredrickson explained.

Birkland noted Pagel’s versatility and his “ability to be a head coach, but also [was] able to focus in on a position role, especially defense.”

In addition to coaching football, Pagel always made an effort to teach his players important life lessons.

“Coach Pagel always brought a different perspective of things, mainly connecting football to everyday life. He has taught us to always ‘embrace the challenge’ and to be tough. Playing football in such a good conference isn’t easy, but neither is anything we do here at Carleton, or in life. There is no alternative. You’ve just got to face what’s in front of you head on,” Fredrickson reflected.

Christian Cavan ’20 spoke to the support system Pagel constantly provided.

“Coach Pagel always gave it his all to support us on and off the field. He continually kept us motivated for practices and games. When there was an illness in my family, Coach Pagel checked in on me and cared about my family members. He taught me how to persevere when the spotlight isn’t cast our way and the value of brotherhood,” said Cavan.

Echoing this sentiment, Fredrickson said “Coach Pagel always had our back no matter the circumstance. He had a lot of adversity here at Carleton, and acted how he spoke, always faced up to a challenge and never gave up.”

 When the team had less successful seasons, Pagel never gave up on trying to motivate his players and avoided lingering on past disappointments. Reflecting on Coach Pagel’s mentality, Fredrickson said, “every team each year is different than the ones that come before it. He always taught us that one characteristic of a successful person is they never dwell on the past. While it’s not easy to forget about things or seasons that have happened, there’s no sense wasting time thinking about it.”

Birkland also acknowledged that “our team had some personality problems and there was a disconnect in focus at points, and I think Bob could have been harder in confronting it. Bob always made it seem that we were improving, learning, and just needed a couple more pieces to be successful. Most of us understood that we could be doing better, and that the coaching would get better, but things never seemed to line up.”

 While Carleton football has had seasons of mixed results, Fredrickson believes it is important to remember that a set of numbers does not illustrate the entirety of a team.

“The record of the football team here only represents so much. A lot of people do not know all the work it takes to be a head coach of a football team and the adversity and challenges that are here compared to other schools. Coach Pagel genuinely cared about all the players here and our experience,” Fredrickson said.

Birkland added that “if the school wants to have a more competitive football program, they will have to work for it, from the administration, to the hiring, to the players.”

 The search for Bob Pagel’s replacement is now underway. In the meantime, assistant football coaches Jerome Smith, Todd Olson and Rob Davenport will continue leading the football program and the recruiting efforts. 

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