UNH head football coach Sean McDonnell announced his retirement after 23 years on the sidelines.

After a career record of 157-104 going back to 1999 when "Coach Mac" took over for his mentor Bill Bowes, McDonnell decided it was time for "the next man up" to take the reins.

"It's time for a new face, new ideas and a new way of doing things around here. I can't begin to say thank you enough for the opportunities the University of New Hampshire has given to me: as a student, as an assistant coach and then as its head football coach. This has been the honor of a lifetime," O'Donnell said in a statement.

O'Donnell's retirement is effective immediately.

"Legacy, legendary, transformative and visionary are words frequently used to describe great people and their accomplishments, but often fall well short of the truth. I'm here to tell you these terms truly embody Sean and just begin to skim the surface of his magnitude," UNH Director of Athletics Marty Scarano said in a statement.

Scarano announced his own retirement at the end of the current academic year in November.

He has the second most wins by a Wildcat head coach ranked behind Bowes' 175 wins. McDonnell was a defensive back for the Wildcats from 1975-78.

As head coach he was recipient of the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2014 and the New England Football Writers Coach of the Year five times.

The past few seasons have been rough for O'Donnell who did not coach in 2019 due to a medical leave for bladder cancer and then went 0-1 in the spring after the Wildcats postponed their fall 2020 season because of the pandemic.

The Wildcats were 3-8 in his final season after winning their first three games of the season.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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