Irish offensive coordinator Charley Molnar was named th 29th head coach of the University of Massachusetts football team Thursday.

Charley Molnar Named University of Massachusetts Head Football Coach

Dec. 9, 2011

Press release issued by University of Massachusetts
AMHERST, Mass. – As the UMass football team prepares to embark on its biggest transition in program history, Charley Molnar will draw upon 28 years of experience to lead the Minutemen into the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Mid-American Conference. Molnar was officially named the 29th head coach of the UMass football program on Thursday, December 8, 2011 at the new home of the Minutemen – Gillette Stadium.

A veteran offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Molnar developed prolific offensive attacks at Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Central Michigan. In his time at those schools, the Morristown, N.J., native helped them to a 59-20 record and seven straight bowl games including Cincinnati’s historic 2009 season where the Bearcats won the Big East Conference Championship, played Florida in the Sugar Bowl and finished 3rd in the BCS rankings.

“I am extremely pleased that Charley has decided to join the University of Massachusetts as our next head football coach,” said Director of Athletics John McCutcheon. “His background, energy, commitment to student-athletes and desire to be part of a growing program clearly separated him from an outstanding pool of candidates. I know that once the UMass community has a chance to meet him they will realize how fortunate we are to have Charley as our head football coach.”

Molnar joins the Minutemen after two seasons with Notre Dame as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In his time with the Fighting Irish, the Morristown, N.J., native has helped the program to an 8-4 record in 2011 and an upcoming appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl along with an 8-5 record in 2010 and an appearance in the Sun Bowl.

“This is an opportunity I worked for my whole career and there is no limit to my excitement on this day,” said Molnar. “When John McCutcheon called to offer me the position, I knew this dream was becoming a reality and I said when can I start. I have a vision for this program into the future and we are going to do nothing but great things at the University of Massachusetts.”

“UMass Amherst has a proud, 130-year tradition in college football, and today represents the true start of a new era as we welcome Charley Molnar as head coach. Charley is a proven and respected leader. He will ensure that our student-athletes excel both on and off the field as the Minutemen begin play at the FBS level of competition,” said UMass Chancellor Robert C. Holub.

“Coach Molnar has a track record of winning and has the history of being associated with programs that won, that have shaped the lives of student-athletes, and that were first-class making their universities, their students, faculty, friends and alumni proud,” said University President Robert L. Caret.

The 2011 season is Molnar’s 28th overall including 11 seasons as an offensive coordinator and 17 seasons coaching quarterbacks.

Prior to his time at Notre Dame, Molnar was an integral piece of Cincinnati’s rise capped by a Big East Championship, Sugar Bowl Appearance and top-five final ranking in the BCS standings in 2009.

Molnar also has extensive experience with the Mid-American Conference after working at Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Kent State, and Eastern Michigan. For the past six seasons, Molnar has worked alongside current Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.

“Charley has been part of my offensive staff the last six years and has been a key figure in the success we have had at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Charley’s familiarity with the Mid-American Conference and strong recruiting connections on the East Coast will truly benefit him at UMass. This opportunity is well deserved and I could not be happier for Charley, Meg and their family,” said Kelly.

For the second straight year, Molnar helped the Irish earn a bowl game bid thanks in part to the play of quarterback Tommy Rees. Rees has thrown for over 2,700 yards this season with 19 touchdowns averaging 225.7 yards per game. As a unit, the Irish averaged 424.1 yards per game on offense thanks in part to the Rees and 1,000-yard rusher Cierre Wood. Alongside Wood, Jonas Gray netted nearly 800 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on the ground.

Highlighting the 2011 season for the Irish were wins over Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, and Air Force.

In 2010, his first year with the Irish, Molnar helped install a new offensive system and developed both Dayne Crist and Rees as first-time starting quarterbacks. Crist started the first nine games and passed for 2,033 yards with 15 touchdowns before injuring a knee in the first quarter of the ninth game. Rees played the rest of the ninth game after Crist was injured and completed 33 of 54 passes for 334 yards with four touchdowns. He started the final four games and led the Irish to wins over No. 15 Utah, Army, at USC and Miami (Fla.) in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Under Molnar’s tutelage, Rees set Notre Dame freshman records in touchdown passes (12) and completion percentage (61.0). He also ranked in the top five among freshman Irish quarterbacks in completions (third, 100), yards (second, 1,106) and passing efficiency (second, 132.70).

From 2006-09, Molnar coached alongside current Irish head football coach Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and Central Michigan and helped develop record-breaking quarterbacks and wide receivers. With the Bearcats, Molnar was passing game coordinator and coached the wide receivers from 2007-09. He oversaw the two most prolific passing seasons in Cincinnati history and mentored a pair of record-setting receivers.

Wide receivers Mardy Gilyard and Dominick Goodman flourished with Molnar as their coach. Goodman played for Molnar from 2007-08 and initially set Cincinnati career records with 2,512 receiving yards and 22 receiving touchdowns. Goodman also tied the previous school record with 204 career catches. Gilyard received Molnar’s tutelage from 2007-09 and broke Goodman’s career records by recording 3,053 receiving yards and 25 TD catches. Fittingly, Gilyard also finished his Bearcat career with 204 receptions, tying the school record.

In 2009, Molnar’s passing attack averaged 308.77 yards per game to rank eighth in the nation and the 4,014 passing yards set the Cincinnati single-season record. The Bearcats ranked fourth in the country in passing efficiency (161.21), thanks, in part, to a school record 39 TD passes. Cincinnati’s high-octane offense averaged 447.5 total yards per game (11th in the nation) and tallied the fifth-most points in the Football Bowl Subdivision at 38.6 per game.

With Molnar’s guidance, Gilyard became just the second Cincinnati player ever to be named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. He caught a school-record 87 passes for 1,191 yards with 11 TDs and ranked in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game. Gilyard was named first-team all-BIG EAST for the second year in a row and became the Bearcats’ first player with multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Armon Binns developed into a solid complementary receiver opposite Gilyard in 2009. Entering the season, Binns had registered two career receptions for 19 yards and zero TDs, but Binns became a second-team all-BIG EAST performer under Molnar after totaling 61 receptions for 888 yards and 11 TDs.

Gilyard and Goodman both experienced career seasons in 2008 as Gilyard set the Cincinnati record with 1,276 receiving yards and Goodman totaled 1,028 yards receiving. The duo became the first Bearcats players to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards together in the same season since 1968 when Jim O’Brien and Tom Rossley accomplished the feat.

Gilyard caught 81 passes and 11 TDs in his breakthrough season and ranked eighth in the nation in total receiving yards, en route to being named first-team all-BIG EAST. Goodman recorded 84 receptions (a school record, at the time) and seven TDs.

In 2007, Molnar’s aerial attack proved a harbinger of things to come for Bearcats fans as Cincinnati passed for 3,720 yards and 36 TDs – both school records, at the time. The Bearcats ranked eighth in the country in passing efficiency (149.38) and averaged 286.2 passing yards per game to rank 20th nationally. Marcus Bennett was selected second-team all-BIG EAST after tallying a school-record 13 TD receptions.

Prior to Cincinnati, Molnar joined Kelly’s Central Michigan staff in 2006 when he helped the Chippewas win 10 games for the first time since 1979. Central Michigan won its Mid-American Conference division, the MAC championship and was victorious in the Motor City Bowl. The Chippewas’ offense ranked first in the MAC in scoring and second in passing.

Molnar coached the quarterbacks and wide receivers at Central Michigan and developed the most prolific freshman quarterback and wide receiver duo in the nation in 2006. Dan LeFevour was named MAC Freshman of the Year and was selected first-team all-MAC after he led the conference in passing TDs, passing yards, passing efficiency, completion percentage, total completions and total yards. Under Molnar’s tutelage, LeFevour completed 247 of 388 pass attempts for 3,031 yards with 26 TDs. He also rushed 132 times for 521 yards and seven TDs and ranked 13th nationally in total offense (253.7 yards per game). LeFevour set school records for passing yards and TD passes, and his 3,552 total yards also were a Central Michigan record. He finished his rookie campaign ranked 19th nationally in passing efficiency.

On the receiving end of many LeFevour passes was freshman wide receiver Bryan Anderson who snagged a school-record 73 passes for 877 yards and five TDs. Anderson also was named first-team all-MAC and was selected a first-team freshman All-American.

Molnar completed a rare coaching feat at the conclusion of the 2006 season. Not only was he on the sidelines for 15 contests, including the 2006 MAC Championship Game, 2006 Motor City Bowl and 2007 International Bowl, but he coached the MVP in all three postseason games.

Molnar directed another record-setting quarterback during his only season at Indiana State in 2005. As the associate head coach and offensive coordinator of the Sycamores, Molnar’s offense broke six school passing records (including passing yards, completion percentage and TD passes) and two of his players combined to break 11 single-season or single-game school marks. Quarterback Blayne Baggett completed 284 of 473 passes for 2,741 yards, all school records. Baggett’s 284 completions also were a Gateway Conference single-season record. Wide receiver Sam Logan was the primary beneficiary, as his 77 receptions were a Sycamore record and his 849 receiving yards ranked second in school history. Logan was honored after the season as a first-team all-Gateway Conference performer.

Molnar coached quarterbacks from 2003-04 at Western Michigan and was forced to develop multiple signal-callers each season. In 2004, Molnar helped three quarterbacks combine to pass for 2,913 yards (264.8 yards per game) with 23 passing TDs. He also had to prepare three Bronco quarterbacks in 2003 as he guided them to the eighth-ranked passing attack in the nation with 3,701 passing yards (308.4 yards per game) and 31 TDs. Chad Munson passed for 2,123 yards with 18 TD passes in 2003, while Jon Drach completed 67.0 percent of his passes for 1,499 yards and 13 TDs.

A one-year stop at Eastern Michigan in 2002 as quarterbacks coach followed a one-year stint as wide receivers coach at Eastern Illinois in 2001.

From 1990-2000, Molnar spent time as offensive coordinator as well as working with quarterbacks and wide receivers at two universities. He worked for seven seasons from 1994-2000 at Kent State after he worked in the same position at Illinois State from 1990-93.

Prior to Illinois State, Molnar called the offensive plays and coached quarterbacks at Western Carolina in 1989. He made his first foray into major college football as a graduate assistant in 1987-88 at Virginia. With the Cavaliers, he assisted the quarterbacks coach.

Molnar’s first coaching job came at his alma mater, Lock Haven University. From 1984-86 he worked with the wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and kickers.

A 1984 graduate of Lock Haven, Molnar earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. He was born July 23, 1961, and he and his wife, Meg, have eight children: Charley III, Gillian, Tate, Bryce, Mitch, Gemma, Gianna and Dominic.