The character reminds Ingold of the late Princeton squash coach Bob Callahan ’77

Jeff Ingold ’90 holds the Emmy Award he won for Ted Lasso.
Courtesy of Jeff Ingold ’90
Jeff Ingold ’90, executive producer of the hit comedy Ted Lasso, never expected to work in television. 

Admittedly, he enjoyed watching TV — probably more than others at Princeton. The history major and former squash team captain still recalls whistling the theme song to Dynasty with his Princeton roommate in eager anticipation of that prime-time soap opera’s airing each week.

But it wasn’t until years later — after a stint in sales for tennis racquet maker ProKennex and subsequently studying marketing at business school — that a summer internship at Warner Brothers finally opened his eyes to the fact that there were “actually real jobs” in television. He decided that’s where he wanted to be, creating shows like his favorites at the time: CheersSeinfeld, and Friends.

Still, his path into television from there was by no means direct. Ingold first landed a job in research at NBC that, in retrospect, he says was an excellent education in what kinds of storylines viewers best respond to. To make the jump to the creative side, Ingold left to work at a production company as an assistant answering phones — a major step back in pay and responsibility for the then 30-year-old Ingold. Finally, a Princeton alum at NBC, Edward “Ted” Frank ’69, hired Ingold to be NBC’s point person on the sitcom Just Shoot Me

“Ted Frank probably gave me my biggest break, bringing me back to NBC and putting me into a creative position,” says Ingold, whose career took off from there, as he went on to become head of comedy at NBC.

As a network executive, however, Ingold still wasn’t exactly where he wanted to be — working with writers. In 2011, he decided to join Doozer, the production company started by Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence where Ingold now works as an executive producer of Ted Lasso

For the uninitiated, the show’s title character is a conspicuously mustachioed American football coach (played by Jason Sudeikis) who finds success coaching a fictional Premier League soccer club by using empathy — not to mention a steady stream of folksy aphorisms — to get the most out of his players. 

The character, dreamed up by comedian Sudeikis, reminds Ingold of the late Bob Callahan ’77, longtime head coach of the Princeton men’s squash team. Callahan, whose approach to coaching echoed that of Ted Lasso, also wore a mustache when Ingold played for him.

“He had the original Ted Lasso mustache, in my eyes,” says Ingold, who came to play squash for Callahan in large part because he was drawn to the coach’s warm and positive attitude. “It never felt like it was winning or nothing.” 

As an executive producer, Ingold helps guide Ted Lasso from behind the scenes. In the world of television, executive producers are responsible for making and selling a show. That includes hiring writers, casting, production, keeping a show on budget, and, ultimately, ensuring that the network and viewers are satisfied, says Ingold. 

Seeing Ted Lasso from the perspective of executive producer has been especially rewarding because it means Ingold has “skin in the game,” he says. That all culminated in a “surreal” moment last September when Ingold found himself on the Emmy stage with his Ted Lasso teammates. The show won four Emmy Awards including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. 

And the show goes on. Production of season 3 of Ted Lasso gets underway in London on March 7. The season is slated to premiere on AppleTV+ this fall.

Watch the official trailer for Ted Lasso: