Holy Cross fires head coach Allen
By John Connolly
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
In the end, no amount of good will could change the numbers as the popular Dan Allen was relieved of his duties as Holy Cross head football coach, the Jesuit school announced yesterday.
Under Allen, the Crusaders compiled a mark of 26-63 in eight seasons, including 1-11 (1-6 Patriot League) this year. Allen, a Westboro resident who has one year left on his contract, will remain an employee of the university, according to Richard M. Regan, director of athletics.
``The overall performance of the football team these last few seasons has been disappointing,´´ said Father Michael McFarland, president of Holy Cross, in a prepared statement. ``We owe it to our student-athletes to be competitive at the Patriot League level, allowing them to do their best. It is my judgment that new leadership and direction are necessary.´´
Allen, who is waging a battle against a medical condition known as chemical sensitivity syndrome, declined to comment.
Allen, who turns 48 on Dec. 7, has a record of 61-97 in 14 seasons overall. He led HC to a 7-4 mark in 2000, earning the New England Coach of the Year award for the second time. He was also honored in 1993, after directing Boston University to an 11-0 regular-season mark and a berth in the Division 1-AA playoffs. For those accomplishments, Allen was recognized as national Coach of the Year.
The news of Allen's dismissal hit Holy Cross players hard.
``I saw tears in guys´ faces,´´ said co-captain Ari Confesor, a record-setting wide receiver/return specialist. ``I couldn´t look at coach´s face. It was a horrible moment. He was the one who brought us here and when we think of Holy Cross, we think of coach Allen. He just pulls so hard for us.
``I gave him a big hug and I had tears coming down my face. I just sat there in silence. I thank him for everything he did for me. He was a father figure and an inspiration to me.´´
Regan said several factors entered into the decision.
``It was a lot of things,´´ Regan said. ``The real simple question was what do (we) need to do now and the conclusion we came to is we need a new coach. (Allen) has been a solid coach who runs a class program and sometimes you feel one way, but you have to do what´s best for the program.´´
As far as who Allen's successor will be, Regan said some internal candidates will receive consideration but that the school will also conduct a nationwide search.
``We want to consider everybody,´´ Regan said. ``I think New Year´s is a realistic timetable but we´d like it to be sooner. . . . Obviously, we want the best coach we can get but we want to be careful to make sure who we get fits well at Holy Cross.´´
HC staffers who may be interviewed include offensive coordinator Bob Griffin, a former head coach at Rhode Island, defensive coordinator Leo Fanning and defensive end coach Wally Dembowski, a former HC player who was head coach at UMass-Lowell until that school dropped its football program.
Other potential candidates are UMass recruiting coordinator Paul Gorham, Northeastern offensive coordinator Kevin Morris, who previously served as head coach at WPI, Dartmouth offensive coordinator John Perry and Cincinnati Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle, an ex-HC assistant under both Rick Carter and Mark Duffner. Duffner, who guided HC to a 60-5-1 record from 1986-91, is now the Green Bay Packers' linebackers coach and may also be an attractive candidate.
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