PHILADELPHIA – As first years go, George A. Munger Head Coach of Football Ray Priore put together one of the finest debuts in the history of the University of Pennsylvania’s football program. On Tuesday, his Ivy League championship run in his first season was rewarded with his selection as the Ivy League’s Coach of the Year.
“I am humbled and honored by this award. The 2015 season was a tremendous run for our program, and I am thrilled for the development and growth that we showed en route to an Ivy League championship. I am thankful for having the opportunity to work with an amazing group of coaches. The unmatched support we have felt from the University community – including our president Dr. Amy Gutmann, provost Vincent Price, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, Athletic Director Grace Calhoun, and the entire athletic department – has made so much of this possible. I am also recognizing of the fact that none of this happens without a group of players who rose to the challenge this season and would accept nothing less than their best effort every day. Finally, I’d be remiss not to applaud the Penn Football family – the fans, alumni, and parents. You traveled the course of this season with us, and gave us countless jolts of energy when we needed them the most. In my 29 years at Penn, I have never experienced anything like it. I am proud of the work we are doing as a program, appreciative of the successes we had in 2015, and excited about what we can accomplish in 2016 and beyond.”
In his 29th season on staff with the Quakers – but first as the head coach – Priore became just the second Penn head coach (Ed Zubrow, 1986) to win an Ancient Eight title in his first year at the helm. Overall, he was the seventh Ivy League head coach to do so.
Priore guided the Quakers to a 7-3 overall record, and a 6-1 mark inside the Ivy League in his first season, claiming the program’s 17th Ivy League championship.
His work has been recognized on a national level with his selection as one of 15 finalists for the STATS FCS National Coach of the Year Award which will be presented in January.
Priore’s first win as head coach was a historic one. On September 24, the Quakers defeated No. 5 Villanova, 24-13, for Penn’s first win over the Wildcats since 1911 – and the program’s first-ever road win against a Top-Five opponent.
Priore and the Quakers would close the 2015 season on a six-game winning streak, Penn’s longest since its Ivy championship season in 2010.
Along the way, Priore’s team would again go on the road and knock off a top-ranked opponent. On November 14, the Quakers defeated No. 12 Harvard, 35-25, to give Penn its first season with two road wins over Top-25 opponents in program history.
Priore coached 11 All-Ivy players in his first season, including four first-team All-Ivy selections. Linebacker Tyler Drake, a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection, was announced on Tuesday as one of 25 finalists for the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Year award.
As a team, the Quakers led the Ivy League in 10 statistical categories in Priore’s first season, and were in national Top-10 in completion percentage (third), passing efficiency (fifth), turnover margin (seventh), and tackles-for-loss allowed (ninth).