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The Scarlet & Black

Hawsey departs, Pedersen named interim coach

By Michael Schoelz

After just two years as head football coach of the Pioneers, Max Hawsey resigned from his post to take over as offensive coordinator at Austin College in Austin, Texas. Director of Athletics and Recreation Greg Wallace named Jeff Pedersen, formerly the defensive coordinator and linebacker’s coach, as the interim head coach. Hawsey personally informed the the team of his decision on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“Somebody said we had a meeting and everybody was kind of scared cause nobody knew what was going on,” Defensive Back Marquis Bradley ’11 said. “So when we all get into the room, he sits us down and says there’s no easy way to put this and he just broke down to us why he had to leave.”

Hawsey, who is from Austin, decided to take the job in order to closer to his family and his alma mater, Austin College. Despite the initial surprise, Bradley said that he understood Hawsey’s motives.

“I was just shocked,” Bradley said. “This is going to be my third coach. I was like, ‘Man, not again.’  I was hoping Hawsey was going to be my last coach. At first I was upset, but then he broke it down to us why—it was the best for his family.”

The news of Hawsey’s departure even caught Pedersen off guard.

“I didn’t hear for sure until Sunday [Feb. 14th] night,” said Pedersen. “It was definitely a surprise. Coach Hawsey was in it for the long haul, we thought.”

Pedersen will come with a lot experience with the Grinnell program. A two-time All American tight end, Pedersen graduated from Grinnell in 2002. Pedersen began coaching at the University of Chicago in 2002 and then offensive coordinator and head strength and conditioning coach at The Catholic University of America before returning to Grinnell in 2008.

“I felt very comfortable moving forward with Jeff Pedersen,” Wallace said. “I knew Jeff—I recruited him personally. He played for me, he coached for me, and so I certainly feel that he’s certainly ready for this type of responsibility.”

As the interim head coach, Pedersen will coach through to the end of the 2010 fall season. The athletic department will then decide where to go beyond that point but Wallace’s primary concern is making the transition from Hawsey to Pedersen as seamless as possible.

“I wanted it to be a hand-off, not a fumble,” Wallace said. “[Coach Pedersen] was an easy way to bridge the gap. Jeff hasn’t missed a beat as far as working with the players and communication.”

The transition was able to go smoothly thanks to Pedersen’s close relationship with the players.

“Coach P knows the game and he’s been with us,” Bradley said.  “He knows the players and he’s not looking to change to the entire program, and I don’t see that as a bad thing. Coach P has a little swag to him. So we’re planning on having a lot more swag, feelin ourselves a little bit.”

“He’s the kind of guy that you can relate to as players,” Receiver Robert Seer ’12 said.

Pedersen sees his objective as simply bringing the team together despite the turbulence.

“I just wanted to stress, first and foremost that no matter who the coach is, it’s the player’s team,” Pedersen said. “And they’re pretty fired up. They’re ready to keep the momentum going. They’re ready to win some games.They’re ready to do what ever it takes to make that happen.”

But despite the changes that the team will have to undergo in the coming months, the team hopes to improve on their 2-8 record last season and build on the experience that they had with Hawsey.

“It’s going to be good because we have some really good players,” Seer said. “My class, the sophomore class, was Coach Hawsey’s first big recruiting class and now that we’re starting to get older, the team is starting to mature more.”

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