Hogan accepts the challenge to take over at O’Hara

Around 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon, just as he was preparing for football practice at Tennessee-Chattanooga, B.J. Hogan’s phone and Facebook page blew up.

Congratulations poured in as word quickly spread that Cardinal O’Hara had hired the five-time, three-sport All-Delco, and 2001 O’Hara grad, as its football coach.

The social media explosion also created a dilemma.

“I didn’t know what to do,’ Hogan said by phone. “Do I reply? What do I do?’

The answer to that question became apparent once Hogan learned that the school officially announced the hiring in a mass email.

“I knew they were going to announce it, I just didn’t know when,’ Hogan said. “I talked to the president (Thomas Fertal) Monday night and he told me that they were going to announce it either Tuesday or Wednesday, but wasn’t sure of exactly when because some final details had to be worked out. It kind of caught me by surprise.’

Some may be a little shocked that a coach with 10 years of experience on the collegiate level, the last six at the Division I FCS level, would be interested in a high school coaching job. Many would view it as a lateral move at best. Others see it as a step back, but not Hogan.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,’ Hogan said. “I absolutely love Chattanooga. It’s a place where I’d love to stay, but I have so many memories from my time at O’Hara. I had a great career there and my experiences there, both on and off the field, were great. I want the kids who come to O’Hara to have the same experience I had.’

Hogan was a two-time All-Delco in football and hockey, earning Player of the Year honors as a junior in 2000. He also was named to the All-Delco baseball team as a senior. From there, it was off to Widener where he earned All-MAC honors as a senior and helped the Pride to a pair of conference titles.

“If it was any other high school job in Delaware County, I wouldn’t be interested,’ Hogan said. “I would not have applied for it or even thought about applying for it. But this is my alma mater and the program is important to me. I want to bring it back to where it was when I was there.’

Hogan said he reached out to O’Hara when he saw an ad about the opening either in late September or early October. He went through three interviews, two with the selection committee that was formed to find a head coach and another with the administration. He was offered the job Monday and accepted it immediately.

Hogan takes over for Paul Strus, who served as interim head coach following the death of Dan Algeo over the summer. The Lions went 1-9 this season, have not had a winning season since 2011 and have played in just two league finals (2005 and 2010) since winning the Red Division title in 2004.

Hogan plans to use his 10 years of experience at the collegiate level (one at Williamson, three at Delaware Valley at six at Chattanooga) to help turn things around.

“It’s all about building relationships,’ Hogan said. “You have to get out and get to know the CYO coaches and the local weight ball coaches. The Drexel Hill Raiders, where I played, Marple Newtown, Rose Tree, Brookhaven, all those programs that are still up and running. I have to build relationships with those programs so they feel comfortable sending their kids to O’Hara. At the end of the day, we’re looking to develop these kids on the field and off it.’

Although Hogan will be officially introduced as the head coach at a press conference next Monday, he will stay at Chattanooga through the end of the seasons. The Moccasins are ranked ninth in the FCS and hope to earn one of the eight first-round byes.

“It’s only fair to the kids I’m coaching now,’ Hogan said. “I don’t want to be one of those guys who gets up and leaves halfway through the season. Everyone at Chattanooga has been great so I’m going to finish it out and everyone on both sides supported that.’

After that, he belongs to O’Hara.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,’ Hogan said. “I don’t know much about the players or the program. I have to get up there and watch some film. I know the freshman class had a really good season and there are some really good players in that class. I have to get to know the sophomores and juniors, but I’m excited to get started.’

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