There was finally white smoke coming from Santa Ana Mater Dei with the naming of a new football coach after months of waiting.
Frank McManus, the defensive backs coach for the last seven years, was introduced to players on Thursday as the replacement for Bruce Rollinson. He showed up wearing a suit and tie and was introduced by president Michael Brennan.
McManus has been with the program for 16 years. It comes as no surprise that Mater Dei chose an insider to replace Rollinson, the head coach since 1989, but several other candidates were believed to have been in the running, including assistant Khaled Holmes, a former Mater Dei and USC lineman.
“I am honored and humbled to lead the Mater Dei Football program into a bright future for our current, future, and legacy Monarch families,” McManus said in a statement. “Our program will focus on fostering family relationships, faith formation, and a vibrant multicultural environment on campus while embodying and upholding the traditions of Pride, Poise, and Courage. Along with my fellow coaches and student-athletes, we are proud to represent the Diocese of Orange, Mater Dei’s faculty/staff, and all whose shoulders we stand on today. We carry that responsibility with honor, glory, and love.”
Rollinson announced his retirement in November, effective at the end of the season. He had been under scrutiny for more than a year after the family of a former player filed a lawsuit in November 2021 alleging a culture of hazing in the program. The school hired a law firm to begin a safety assessment of the athletic program. It was completed in January after 14 months, but not released. The lawsuit was dismissed last month.
Now McManus will get a chance for a fresh start with a program that could be ranked No. 1 in Southern California in the fall because of the numerous returning players, led by quarterback Elijah Brown.