Carleton interim head football coach Bob Pagel was profiled in news article by the Rochester paper The Post Bulletin last Saturday, April 14. Here is a link to the article by Pat Ruff.
Bob Pagel has his work cut out.
His assignment is to head up a Carleton College football program that allows nobody but brainiacs.
The parameters? Incoming players must have scored at least a 28 on their ACT, as well as have graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
Good luck, Bob Pagel.
Actually, the 1986 Dover-Eyota High School graduate refuses to believe his success will have a thing to do with luck. He's also of the mind that he can achieve his ultimate goal, to turn Carleton — one of the top five liberal arts colleges in the country but much lesser known for football — into a consistent football winner.
Pagel has worked as a Carleton assistant the last seven years (the last four as defensive coordinator) and is taking over as the Knights' interim head coach after the resignation of Kurt Ramler in January. In six seasons, Ramler was a combined 22-38, including 12-36 in the competitive Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Knights finished 2-8 in 2011, and won just eight games the last three years.
Still, Pagel says he knows what he's getting into. He also claims to be undaunted.
"This is different, but doable," Pagel said. "The kids have great perspective on knowing what they're here for. For us to say it's going to be football 24-7, that's just not happening. If we did that, there would be a revolt. But you don't have to compromise academics for athletics, or athletics for academics. You have to find that balance."
In the three months since Pagel took the head job, he believes he's already got the program heading strongly in the right direction.
Helping steer it that way have been the players themselves, whose distaste for losing had come to a head.
Now, he's watching them do something about it. He says they want change — and wins — as badly as he does.
"Right now our (players) are tremendously excited," Pagel said. "I really believe they've bought in and are ready for some change. We've had a great offseason, the best since I've been here."
Caleb Hyde, a Carleton junior defensive lineman, says there has been an unmistakable change in attitude recently. For that, he gives Pagel the credit.
"Guys are caring a lot more now, and that has to do with wanting to play for Coach Pagel," Hyde said. "You see a lot more guys in the weight room than you used to. Guys are jacked up about it."
Pagel is selling his players not just on the idea of working hard, but also on the notion that he really does know what he's doing.
His reminder is that he's done this before, working under one of the top men in small college football, current Minnesota Duluth head coach Bob Nielson. Nielson has directed the Bulldogs to a pair of Division II national championships, including twice finishing unbeaten.
Pagel played for Nielson at Wartburg (Iowa) College, then coached under him at Wartburg, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and then for five years at Duluth.
At more than one of those stops, Pagel helped Nielson turn floundering programs into winners. And in the case of Duluth, a big winner.
Pagel says he's ready to take what Nielson taught him and apply it as Carleton's head man.
"The integrity and honesty that he had, and that he truly believed in what he was doing — those are the things that stood out about (Nielson)," Pagel said. "Those are the things that made me want to follow him."