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Players and coaches understandably get the credit associated with victories and the blame that goes along with losses. But college sports programs can’t exist without the people behind the scenes like Brittany Wagner, who came into prominence in her role on Last Chance U.

‘Last Chance U’ became a must-watch Netflix show

Long before ESPN brought The Last Dance to sports fans curious for a look behind the scenes of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, Netflix followed HBO’s Hard Knocks model while focusing on a junior-college football program.

Last Chance U began by chronicling the 2015 and ’16 seasons at East Mississippi Community College and its mix of student-athletes seeking to attract the attention of major colleges or simply prepare for the transition to careers in the workforce.

Many of the players came from disadvantaged backgrounds and had to overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles just to get into school and join the team. Some, like John Franklin III, made it to the NFL. Others washed out during the season, surrendering that last chance.

From start to finish each season, the people tending to them included head coach Buddy Stephens and academic adviser Brittany Wagner.

Brittany Wagner played a big role in ‘Last Chance U’

Brittany Wagner had already been working at East Mississippi Community College for six years when Netflix arrived to launch its Last Chance U series. A native of the state who earned her undergrad and master’s degrees from Mississippi State, Wagner was the academic advisor and counselor for the EMCC football team, making her a significant part of the series.

In her role, she was part disciplinarian and part mother figure. The athletes she supervised often were looking for the break that would launch a pro football career; Wagner was trying to prepare them for life beyond the football field.

Season 3 of Last Chance U moved to Independence Community College in Kansas, and Wagner reportedly lobbied unsuccessfully to land a job with the school, which would have lent some sense of continuity to the series.

According to, Wagner left EMCC in February 2017. She briefly worked in marketing for a food company and soon thereafter launched 10 Thousand Pencils, a consulting company specializing in performance improvement for individuals, schools, and corporations. She traveled the country as a motivational speaker.

The name of her company is a reference to her signature question to students in the first season of Last Chance U: “Do you have a pencil?”

Where is Brittany Wagner now and what’s next?

Brittany Wagner’s name resurfaced in 2020 when SMAC Entertainment, the company owned by Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini, took an interest in her story and proposed a scripted series on her career. Courtney Cox was pitched for the lead role.

In September 2021, she published a book, “Next Chance You.”

In September 2022, the University of Montevallo in Alabama introduced Wagner as as director of the Grainger Center for Professional Development and as a full-time instructor and advisor in the Stephens College of Business.


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