Head football coach dismissed and replaced

Defensive coordinator promoted to head coach

By Rosanna Aguilera
On November 9, 2018

Photo by Pam Belcher: Will Wagner speaks about future plans at a press conference in 2011. Wagner was relieved of his position Nov. 3, 2018.

ASU dismissed head football coach Will Wagner on Saturday, Nov. 3 after the Rams earned a win over Eastern New Mexico University and immediately replaced him.

The university named Jeff Girsch as head coach to succeed Wagner. Girsch was the defensive coordinator for the Rams. He is now head coach going into his fifth year at ASU.

"Coach Girsch has been an outstanding leader and defensive coach for us since he joined Angelo State in 2014," said James Reid, ASU director of athletics. "We look for him to bring those leadership skills to the entire Rams football team."

Reid said the staff met with Wagner over the weekend and informed him of their decision.

"We wish Will [Wagner] the very best," Reid said. "We are grateful for his dedication to our athletics program and the lives of our students."

Wagner came to ASU in 2011 after 11 seasons as assistant coach at Northwest Missouri State University.

Wagner started the 2018 football season with a 42-36 overall record at ASU. His record for this season was 6-4 after Saturday’s game.

"We appreciate Coach Wagner for bringing a fresh approach to Rams football eight years ago," Dr. Brian May, president of ASU, said. "He made valuable contributions to our football program and championed the overall success of our student-athletes."

Girsch led a defensive unit in 2017 that received four Lone Star Conference first-team selections and was ranked second in the conference.

"Jeff Girsch coached some outstanding athletes to very successful results since he has been here," Reid said. "Experience shows that he knows how to recruit and lead the Rams to a great future."

The Rams’ defense allowed only 22.5 points per game in 2017, holding opposing quarterbacks to 211.6 yards per game and opposing rushers to 136.8 yards. In 2016, Girsch’s defense finished first in the Lone Star Conference and fifth in the nation in total defense, scoring defense, sacks, opponents’ first downs and opponents’ third-down percentage.

Girsch coached at St. Ambrose University for 18 years, his last six as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, before he came to ASU. He was named the Mid-States Football Association’s Assistant Football Coach of the Year in 2008.

Girsch coached over 50 all-conference players and five All-Americans and was a part of seven MSFA Conference Championships at St. Ambrose. His defense finished in the top 25 in scoring five of his six years as the coordinator, highlighted by a No. 2 finish in 2009 and a No. 5 finish in 2011.

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