UW-River Falls coach to retire

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UW-River Falls John O'Grady UW-River Falls football coach John O'Grady will retire at the end of the 2010 season. O'Grady, 56, informed the Falcons after Monday's practice at Ramer Field.

The Falcons open the season on Thursday at Ohio Northern.

"Most of my adult life, including four years as a player, five years as a volunteer coach and of course 22 seasons as the head coach has been spent at this university," said O'Grady in a statement. "For the vast majority of my career I have had a passion for coaching. I still do, but I am not passionate about all of the other aspects of my job that do not have much to do with coaching. As a result it is time for me to go. ...

"To all of our players throughout my career, I want to say thank you! Through both good and bad times your work ethic and achievements have impacted me in a very substantial way. You have all enriched my life.

"I have decided to announce this decision at this time because I believe it is best for our football program. It will give our athletic director a head start on the hiring process so that a new head coach can be named as quickly as possible once our season ends."

O'Grady's last day on campus will be Dec. 31, 2010.

"John's dedication and loyalty to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the football program and the young men who played the game is extraordinary," said Falcon athletic director Roger Ternes. "His legacy at UWRF will go down in history along with former great coaches like Mike Farley and Fran Polsfoot. His tenure as the head football coach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls is the longest in school history, and we thank him for his exceptional leadership."

O'Grady played for the Falcons as a linebacker from 1972-75 and earned four letters. He was the team's captain and voted most dedicated in 1975 when the Falcons won their first WIAC title in 18 years.

He was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 5, 2008. He was honored with the prestigious award based on a combination of his coaching record, longevity and service to the WFCA.

O'Grady is seventh among WIAC coaches all-time in wins. In WIAC play, O'Grady has led the Falcons to one first place finish (1998), three second-place finishes (1994, 1995, 1996) and five third place finishes (1989, 1992, 1999, 2000, 2001). He has had winning seasons in 10 of his 21 seasons.

In 1998, the Falcons surprised most WIAC observers. The team finished 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the WIAC, which was good for a tie for first place. In 1996 the team finished 9-2 overall and lost to UW-La Crosse (44-0) in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, which were then 16 teams. In 1995 the Falcons were 9-3 overall. The nine wins tied the school record. In the NCAA playoffs, the Falcons beat Central (10-7) but then lost to La Crosse (28-14).

O'Grady was named the 1995 WIAC Coach of the Year. His teams have compiled a 72-68-3 record in WIAC play.

He got his start at UW-River Falls as an assistant coach of linebackers, secondary and special teams from 1976-80. From 1981-82 O'Grady joined the Badgers as a part-time assistant coach for the UW-Madison. While there, he worked with tight ends and special teams. He would return to Madison for two more seasons in 1985 and work as an offensive line coach and special teams coordinator. He had a tenure at Kent State from 1983-84 as the offensive coordinator and the special teams coordinator. He also spent time working with the team's offensive line. He coached for two years at Miami (Ohio) as an offensive line coach and special teams coordinator (1987-88).