Allegheny's Nagy, Rubino excited about return to PAC

·4 min read

Aug. 5—LATROBE — When Allegheny College's football team takes the field on Sept. 10 against Thiel College it will be the Gators' first conference game in the Presidents' Athletic Conference since 1983.

Mirroring the program's return to the PAC after spending the previous 37 years in the North Coast Athletic Conference, Allegheny representatives attended PAC football media day. Media day, hosted by St. Vincent College on Wednesday, gave Allegheny College a formal reintroduction to the PAC.

"We are so thrilled to have with us our old friends and now new friends again from Allegheny College who are rejoining the PAC and will be competing with us this fall," Joe Onderko, PAC commissioner said. "Allegheny was a member of the PAC from 1958 to 1984 and has a tremendous athletic history.

"Having the Gators come in is really exciting for us. It will take PAC football, which is already played at an extremely high level, to another plateau."

Allegheny head football coach Rich Nagy discussed how attractive the history of the PAC is and how Allegheny will fit into the picture.

"Westminster has six national titles, WJ (Washington & Jefferson) has six 8-2 seasons recently, it's so much fun to be part of something where you have that level of success," Nagy said. "Last year, five teams made postseason play. I'm a big believer that if you're going to do something, to do it as well as you can and to do it at the highest level you can. I can't think of a better place for us to be right now."

Allegheny has a championship history of its own. The Gators won a Division III national championship in 1990, have made eight Division III playoff appearances, won nine NCAC conference championships and won four PAC conference championships.

"It's a great league. You have national championship caliber teams within the conference and we're excited to be part of that," Nagy said. "That's where we want our program to be and if we're going to be that type of program we will see what it takes on an everyday basis to get to where we want to get to."

With the transition into a new conference, Allegheny will play most of its games in Pennsylvania. The NCAC is made up of teams from Ohio and Indiana while eight of the 11 teams in the PAC are in Pa.

The intra-state schedule will cut down on commuting and should promote rivalries between programs.

"I like to look at it like this. Meadville has rivalries with Greenville and all the high schools around and we're playing teams in those towns. To me, those rivalries will spill over," Nagy said. "When I was an assistant at Allegheny we would play Westminster or Carnegie Mellon and those were huge football games. Not just for the school, but for the community.

"I'm looking for it to have the same impact. Obviously wining will help create those rivalries but I think the recipe is there to all that to happen."

Playing in the PAC means a lot to the players as well. Junior defensive lineman Chris Rubino is excited to play games in Pennsylvania so his friends and family can attend more games.

The Monaca native is also looking forward to seeing what the local competition has to offer.

"The PAC has made a name for itself. Western Pennsylvania football, in my opinion, is the best football in the country," Rubino said. "I'm looking forward to the competition because it will show us how we've grown over the offseason and how we will compete against national championship level programs."

In high school, Rubino played at The Kiski School, a member of the WPIAL. A lot of PAC student-athletes hail from WPIAL programs, which could help foster more rivalries on a player-to-player level.

"I'm excited to play against former high school opponents," Rubino said. "I've grown up around the PAC my whole life. I envisioned myself going to a PAC school and it's basically where I've wanted to be my whole life. I'm excited about it."

Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at .