Ragland resigns, Mike Hennigan elevated to head football coach

Tennessee Tech head football coach Jim Ragland has resigned, and assistant coach Mike Hennigan, 44, who has served as Tech's defensive coordinator during Ragland's 10 seasons, has been selected as his replacement.

"We looked first at the current staff and felt it wasn't necessary to look further for our new head coach," said David Larimore, vice president and athletics director. "We found a man who is superbly qualified in Mike Hennigan, and we avoided a delay that could have cost us in recruiting.

"We fully expect the program to continue to move forward."

Ragland will remain with the University in a teaching and administrative capacity, according to Larimore.

The announcement was made Monday, Dec. 11, at an afternoon press conference, after Ragland had informed his players and coaching staff of his intentions.

"I have come to the decision that in the best interest of the football program, and me personally, a change is needed in the leadership of the football program," Ragland said in his letter of resignation submitted to Larimore.

"Being a former player and having devoted a big portion of my life to being a part of the football program here at Tech, I firmly believe that the football program is in position to move forward and a change in the head coaching position is needed and will be positive.

The resignation was entirely Ragland's decision, according to Larimore.

"Jim will continue to teach, and will also coordinate with the health and physical education department the teaching assignments of other coaches," Larimore said. "He will fill in, or arrange to have replacements, when coaches are gone for recruiting.

"He will also have administrative duties, as assigned, such as coordinating the Golden Eagle Bass Fishing tournament," Larimore added. "There are a variety of contributions Jim can make to the University and the athletics department."

Ragland joined the Tech coaching staff for the 1984 season as coach of the quarterbacks and receivers, and was offensive coordinator in 1985. He was named head coach following the 1985 season upon Gary Darnell's resignation.

In his 10 years, the Golden Eagles have compiled a 42-66 record, and were ranked in the NCAA Division I-AA Top 25 in three different seasons. The Golden Eagles reached a high of 11th early in the 1994 campaign. Ragland was named the Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year after both the 1992 and 1993 seasons, and was selected as the Kodak Region 3 I-AA Coach of the Year in 1992.

University President Angelo Volpe had words of praise for both Ragland and Hennigan.

"I want to commend Coach Ragland for the many successes he has brought our football program, and I am looking forward to working with him in his new role here at Tennessee Tech," Volpe said.

"Jim has my highest respect and admiration, not only as a football coach and teacher, but as one of the finest individuals I know," Volpe added.

"I also want to wish Mike Hennigan all the best success in his new role as head coach," Volpe said. "I have the greatest confidence in Mike's ability to take our football program forward. I am also looking forward to working with him and supporting him in any way that I can."

Under Hennigan's direction the Golden Eagle defense annually ranked among the OVC's best. His charges led the OVC and finished in the Top 10 nationally in total defense in both 1992 and 1993.

"The thing that's important to me," said Hennigan, "is that people realize 'who I am' and 'what I do' are one, yet separate.

"I'm a family-oriented person with deep religious convictions. If I affect people I work with, I hope it's in a positive way.

"What I do is coach because I enjoy working with young people and I like coaching. The important things I must consider as a coach are that my job is to win football games, to help young men grow through what could be a tough time in their life, and to represent Tennessee Tech in a positive manner."

A native of Washington, Iowa, Hennigan was an all-conference selection for Tech's 1972 Ohio Valley Conference chamnpionship team. He went on to spend seven years in the National Football League with the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets.

Hennigan was named all-OVC and honorable mention all-American as a senior when he posted 110 tackles. He helped Tech to a 10-1 record and a spot in the Grantland Rice Bowl. He was also selected to play in the All-American Bowl.

He earned his B.S. degree in health and physical educaiton in 1973 and was the third pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft.

A knee operation forced him to the sidelines where he stepped into a coaching career, beginning with spring practice at Tech under Don Wade in 1980.

During the 1980 and 1981 seasons he coached linebackers at East Tennessee State, then went to Western Carolina for the 1982 and 1983 seasons as defensive coordinator. He helped the Catamounts reach the finals of the I-AA playoffs in 1983.

In 1984 Hennigan was in charge of inside linebackers at Memphis State, and in 1985 coached defensive ends at Temple University. He returned to his alma mater to join the staff of first-year coach Jim Ragland beginning with the 1986 season.

Hennigan and his wife Leslie have four children -- Michael (12), Morgan (11), Zachary (8), and Taylor (5).