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Penn's Bagnoli Says All Ivy Coaches Want the Playoffs
For the first time in six years, a preseason media poll picked the Penn football team to finish atop the Ivy League. Head coach Al Bagnoli, however, sees something that’s not fair.
Winners of back-to-back league titles, the Quakers have been denied the chance to advance to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs because the Ivy League does not take part in the tournament.
Bagnoli said that if it were up to the coaches, they would vote unanimously to enter the playoffs.
Of the more than 30 sports offered at Penn, football is the only one in which the Quakers do not compete for a national title.
“There’s an innate lack of fairness in our league,” said Bagnoli, who is set to enter his 20th year with the Quakers. “Obviously it’s not a coach’s decision, and . . . we can’t control what [university] presidents and other people are saying.”
The Quakers will attempt to become the first Ivy team to finish undefeated in league play for three consecutive seasons and the first to capture three straight Ivy titles since Penn did it in 1986.
Last season, Penn rolled to a 9-1 record and finished 7-0 in the league, giving the Quakers 15 straight Ivy League wins.
“We want to take the emphasis that we’re going to take everyone’s best shot,” Bagnoli said. “We’re prepared to do that, and we’ll see what happens.”
This season, the Quakers will return two junior quarterbacks in Billy Ragone and Andrew Holland.
Bagnoli said that having confidence in Holland as a backup allows the team to loosen the leash on the fleet-footed Ragone.
Last season, Ragone earned first-team all-Ivy honors as he rushed for 548 yards and threw for 834.
His average of 60.9 rushing yards per game ranked him fifth overall in the Ivy, and he was the only quarterback to finish in the top 10 in the league.
“If Billy twists an ankle, it’s not the end of the world,” Bagnoli said. “It allows the quarterbacks to play to their strengths.”
By Matt Breen, Philadelphia Inquirer