Will Wagner Named Football Coach at Angelo State
West Texas native Will Wagner, the assistant head coach at perennial NCAA Division II powerhouse Northwest Missouri State University, has been named head football coach at Angelo State University, effective immediately.
Athletics Director Kathleen Brasfield announced the appointment Thursday (Dec. 23) of the seventh football coach to lead the Angelo State University Rams. She said Wagner will bring solid coaching and administrative credentials to the job because of his experience at Northwest Missouri State, one of the most successful Division II programs in the country for more than a decade.
Since joining the Northwest Missouri staff in 1998, Will Wagner has helped lead the Bearcats to 10 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) championships, seven national championship games and three national titles. During his tenure, the Bearcats were 108-8 (.931) in the 12-member MIAA.
As a player, Wagner was an All-American defensive back at Hardin-Simmons University, where he played from 1992-95 and earned selection to the university’s 20th Anniversary Team in the fall of 2009. He helped lead Odessa Permian to a Texas State Championship during his senior season in 1991.
In making the appointment, Brasfield said, “I have never seen anyone present a better plan than Coach Wagner for elevating the competitiveness of a football program, not just on the conference level, but also on the national level. He’s very impressive with the plan he will implement. Coach Wagner has learned well from Mel Tjeerdsma, who has developed Northwest Missouri into a perennial Division II power.
“Coach Wagner knows the X’s and O’s, but equally important, he understands how to manage scholarships effectively. He’s able to handle budget reductions without compromising the opportunity for success. In Division II, the challenge is managing scholarships. Learning how to maximize those dollars decides whether you are successful or not. You can know all the X’s and O’s in the world, but if you have not done an effective job with scholarships, you won’t be successful.”
Wagner succeeds Dale Carr, who had a 28-36 record in six seasons with the Rams. Wagner was an assistant coach on the Northwest Missouri team that defeated ASU, 45-14, in San Angelo Stadium in the first round of the D-II playoffs in 2005, Carr’s inaugural year as ASU coach.
“I’ve been watching and learning from Mel Tjeerdsma for 11 years and in the last couple of years I started to figure out that I’m ready to do this,” Wagner said. “The great thing is Angelo State’s history. They’re in Division II, and that’s what I know more than anything. They’re in a great conference, the Lone Star Conference, where we’re going to be competing every weekend with a top team. That’s very similar to the MIAA Conference that Northwest Missouri State is in. I just see it being a perfect fit right now. It’s a program that wants to get back to its tradition and its history of winning, and I believe I’m the guy that can take it the next step.”
At Northwest Missouri, Wagner first served as a graduate assistant coach for two seasons before being hired fulltime to serve as defensive backs coach, a job he held even after being named assistant head coach prior to the 2007 season.
Under his tutelage, 12 defensive backs combined to earn 18 All-MIAA honors, including Myles Burnsides, a two-time All-American who was named National Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Northwest Missouri has finished six of the last eight seasons with at least 10 defensive players recording interceptions. In 2009, 11 Bearcats picked off 25 passes, the second-highest total in the nation. The Bearcats have averaged nearly 18 interceptions per season since 2004.
This year, Northwest Missouri finished 12-2 and advanced to the D-II national semifinals before losing to Minnesota Duluth, 17-13.
As a Hardin-Simmons Cowboy, Wagner started a record 47 games, set school records for interceptions in a season with eight and set an American Southwest Conference record for career picks with 23. He was also credited with 185 tackles and 52 pass break-ups. He stayed on as a graduate assistant at Hardin-Simmons for the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
Wagner and his wife, Andrea, have two sons, Brooks and Brayden.