And he had no choice but to let

By Allen Moff Record-Courier sports writer Published:

And he had no choice but to let loose.

"I sat down and had a good cry after Saturday's game," said Corrigall, who learned on Nov. 12 that his contract would not be renewed following the 1997 season. "And that was worth a million bucks. It's really nothing to be ashamed of. There's energy in tears."

Memories of the enormous amount of energy Corrigall has expended for the past four years in an unbridled attempt to resurrect his alma mater's football program were without doubt speeding through his mind as those tears flowed.

"As I said before, this program was in the grave when I took it over," said Corrigall, who became Kent State's 17th head football coach in February of 1994 after serving as the school's assistant athletic director for facilities and operations since July of 1990. "Internally, that fact is known. But I really don't know if others recognize the seriousness of the problems and the level it had receded to in all facets."

Corrigall vividly recalls the assignment he was given when Paul Amodio, who served as the school's director of athletics from 1980-94, named him head coach of a team that went 0-11 in 1993.

"I was ordered to clean up the football operation," said Corrigall. "And I took one bite out of it at a time to the best of my abilities."

And before he was through, Corrigall had gnawed away a rather large chunk of the myriad of problems the program faced when he originally took it over.

"We patched up a lot of bridges that had been burned in the past," said Corrigall. "Internally, we pulled the support system _ the financial aid, academic support and food service people, and many others _ onto our side. We restored our trust with the press and media, and we regained the trust of the Ohio high school football coaches, especially those in our area.

"Academically, our grade-point average improved from 2.14 when I took over to 2.56 this past semester, and the off-the-field problems of the past were pretty much eliminated. Our retention rates are way up. We restored the pride these young men had in themselves and the football operation."

Corrigall also worked diligently to garner much-needed financial support for the program.

"We appealed to former players and private citizens to help us raise money to send our kids to summer school last summer after the administration said it had no money for that purpose," said Corrigall. "We secured $15,000 for air conditioning and $15,000 for carpet in the locker rooms. And we made efforts to restore the program's sense of tradition by posting the awards our players have earned and pictures of our NFL players in the coach's office.

"We also upgraded our film room and were able to sell to the administration the need for a ninth coach."

From a clean-up perspective, Corrigall's efforts were obviously fruitful. The program as a whole is, by all accounts, significantly more stable than it was four short years ago.

However, on the field, the Flashes managed only eight wins in 44 outings under Corrigall.

"But we won three games this year and we were definitely making progress," said Corrigall. "I just feel I ran out of time. Again, my mission was to clean up this program and I believed they would give me enough time to get that done. Looking back, I should have demanded a five-year contract. That's about the only thing I would have done differently."

Did Corrigall's job description change since current director of athletics Laing Kennedy and others moved into the power positions during his reign?

"I have no idea if expectations changed," said Corrigall. "But I never changed the approach I took to the job."

One of Corrigall's primary concerns at this point is making sure the person who ultimately fills his shoes picks up right where he left off.

"It's very important to me that whoever they tap finishes the job we've started," said Corrigall. "He needs to take the program from the level I've left it at to the next level, without sacrificing the integrity we've established. The administration also needs to give him enough time to get the job done, and they need to make sure the person they hire doesn't use this as a steppingstone, which could ultimately cause the program to regress again.

"My door will always be open. I want the next guy to know the history of the program, how we moved forward with the vision we had and what we got accomplished."

Corrigall was obviously not thrilled with the administration's decision to let him go. But he's dealing with it in the most positive way he believes possible.

"Anger chokes you off at the point of attack and destroys your thought process and your person, and I'll never let that happen," said Corrigall. "This has been a tremendous learning experience and I have many, many windows of opportunity to pursue. I need time to decide what's next. For now, I'll just take some time to rest and tie up loose ends. I have not been approached by the administration with regard to the rest of my responsibilities and how they want to proceed.

"But I'm proud of what we've accomplished and I thank the administration for giving me the opportunity to coach at my alma mater. We've come a long way in a short period of time and I have no regrets. None whatsoever."

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