McConnell was named the head coach of the College of Emporia Fighting Presbies at the start of the 1950 season, a post he held until completion of the 1955 season. During this time, his teams posted a record of 39 wins, 13 losses, and 1 tie. They were conference champions of the KCAC twice and also had an appearance in the Mineral Water Bowl in 1953.
McConnell was the 13th head coach for the Fort Hays Tigers located in Hays, Kansas and he held that position for thirteen seasons, from 1956 until 1968. His career coaching record at Fort Hays was 45 wins, 68 losses, and 3 ties. This ranks him second at Fort Hays in total wins and 14th at Fort Hays in winning percentage.