December 15, 2017

Race for the Record: Dickinson State’s Hank Biesiot and Saint Francis’ Kevin Donley Tied in Career Wins

This article is the courtesy of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and is used with permission. It was written by Kay Hawes, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the NAIA, and was originally published by the NAIA on August 30, 2012.

Who doesn’t love a good race? Especially when the competitors are worthy, the goal is lofty and the crowd is cheering loudly.

Just such a race is on right now in NAIA college football. Hank Biesiot of Dickinson State University (N.D.) and Kevin Donley of University of Saint Francis (Ind.) are tied at 255 career victories, second-best in the NAIA. The NAIA career-wins record of 256 is held by Frosty Westering, who retired from Pacific Lutheran University (Wash.), formerly of the NAIA, in 2003.

It’s likely that the record will be tied and then fall soon. Biesiot and the Blue Hawks open their season this weekend against Rocky Mountain College (Mont.). Donley’s Cougars opened their season last week with a 46-10 victory over Texas College. The Cougars take the field this week against the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

No matter who you favor in this race, it’s easy to see there’s no loser. Both Biesiot and Donley are winners in coaching and in their real job-teaching student-athletes to become responsible, dedicated young adults.

Hank Biesiot is beginning his 37th season at Dickinson State, where he is an associate professor of health and physical education, teaching everything from sports psychology to archery. Biesiot began teaching high school in 1967, and he has remained a teacher since-both on and off the field.

“He’s such a classy person,” said assistant coach Pete Stanton of Biesiot. “He has taught everyone to respect the bus driver, the custodian and the other team. The other word I’d use is consistency. He’s never wavered in his philosophy or his style. He’s only had three losing seasons his entire career. Class and consistency are the most important things about him.”

Biesiot’s success on the field has been impressive as the Blue Hawks have advanced to the playoffs in seven of the past 10 seasons. Biesiot has coached 31 NAIA All-Americans, won 17 conference titles and had 15 NAIA postseason appearances. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2006.

This summer, USA College Sports Inc. created the Biesiot Award to recognize the outstanding NAIA football player of the year. Winners will be chosen for their success in athletics, academics and community service.

Kevin Donley is beginning his 15th season at Saint Francis and his 34th season coaching college football. Prior to coming to the Cougars in 1998, Donley coached at the University of California (Pa.), Georgetown College (Ky.) and Anderson University (Ind.). Donley also has won NAIA Coach of the Year twice, in 2004 and in 1991.

Donley started the football program at Saint Francis 15 years ago, and his Cougars were ranked in the NAIA top 25 two years later. They have remained on that list ever since, with 13 consecutive winning seasons, 12 NAIA postseason appearances and six unbeaten regular seasons. Also notable are the three consecutive NAIA National Championship Runner-Up finishes, from 2004 to 2006.

But those who have played for Donley point out that winning isn’t all he wants from his players.

“Coach D doesn’t only build a team, he builds men,” Matt Smith, a senior defensive tackle for the Cougars told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. “He builds men rather than just players…he builds men to be strong-minded, strong-willed, and to have passion for everything they do, not just football.”

No matter who breaks the record, and who holds it the longest, both Biesiot and Donley are in rare air with so many wins. Among the all-time career wins list of football coaches at all levels, they are tied for 19th, ahead of former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes.

Both the NAIA and the NCAA recognize the wins of the other Association-after a 10-year waiting period-so it doesn’t matter where the wins are accrued. And those who know football point out that a good coach looks the same, no matter where the field of play sits.

“No matter what the level…coaching is coaching and football is football,” said Donley’s son Pat, the Cougar’s offensive coordinator, to the Journal Gazette. “You’ve got to know what the heck you’re doing to be successful.”

In this race, everyone wins.


Fielding “Hurry-Up” Yost and Tom Osborne: The Only Two

Throughout the history of college football, many coaches have left their mark on the game. Of all that have patrolled a sideline, only two major college coaches were on the job for at least 25 seasons and also compiled a winning percentage of eighty percent or greater.

Fielding “Hurry-Up” Yost and Tom Osborne are the field generals who accomplished this feat. They were leaders of schools that make up college football lore. And in fact, both coached at the same school—75 years apart.

Fielding Harris Yost’s coaching rein lasted from 1897 through the 1926 season. According to football legend, he was nicknamed “Hurry-Up” for trying to motivate his players by yelling “hurry up” at them. By looking at his record, I suppose it worked.

His time as a head coach would take a round-a-bout way to stardom. His legendary coaching career of 29 years began at Ohio Wesleyan in 1897. This would be Yost’s first stop of five different schools in five seasons.

From the Buckeye State, he would, like many of America’s early pioneers, “Go West, young man!” He followed this motto, popularized by nineteenth century newspaper editor Horace Greeley, and headed to Lincoln, Nebraska for the 1898 season; as it was 75 years before Tom Osborne would take over the reins of the Cornhuskers. After the 1898 season, he hit the trail again; ending up in Kansas as the 1800’s would come to an end.

He had hoped for a new start with the beginning of a new century. He began the 1900’s as the coach of Stanford; but it would be like the previous stops — one season and gone!

While at Stanford, he was the fifth of seven coaches that served just a single-season on “The Farm.” Stanford implemented a rule that all coaches had to be an alumnus. Yost had graduated from West Virginia in 1896.

It was reported that this new guideline didn’t sit too well with him! One could only think that this was in the back of his mind when he would lead Michigan westward to play in the very first Rose Bowl; as Michigan shellacked Stanford 49-0 following the 1901 season. But before his career in Ann Arbor would start, he had some unfinished business in California.

Further research has uncovered two additional wins not noted with his NCAA-official record. A researcher, combing through the Cornhuskers’ scores, discovered that a game was initially listed as a loss; when in reality it should have been recorded as victory.

Playing in Kansas City, Missouri, the Bugeaters’ (an early name that Nebraska was known by from 1890-1900) game was originally recorded as a 24-0 loss to William Jewell; while the research revealed the score against the Cardinals as a 38-0 triumph!

Even though it was two seasons later—in terms of when the games were played—his next additional victory has never been credited to his career record.

During the 1900 season, in addition to coaching at Stanford, he also served as interim head coach at San Jose State Normal School. Checking the 2009 San Jose State Media Guide, three coaches are listed for the 1900 season with two credited with records for the seven games that the school played:

• 1900 James E. Addicott 2 3 1  .417
• 1900 Fielding Yost     1 0 0 1.000

No reason was given why Addicott left after the sixth game. Yost is listed as the coach in the finale, played on December 8th. San Jose State Normal School was victorious over Chico State Normal School (Chico State’s name from 1897-1921) 12-0.

After the 1900 season, he headed to Michigan.  In his first five seasons with the Wolverines, his record was 55-1-1. Yost won his 100th career game on November 7, 1908 against Kentucky, as the Wolverines were victorious 62-0. This was the only shutout win by Michigan in 1908 (5-2-1) who also played Michigan Agriculture to a scoreless tie and would lose to an 11-1-0 Pennsylvania, 62-0.

U of M would also drop its season finale 28-4 to Syracuse—as this would be the first time a Yost-coached Wolverine eleven ended the season with back-to-back setbacks. Despite these late season losses, Yost had finally found a home…as he stayed in Ann Arbor for the remainder of his career, compiling a 165-29-10 record. His career record, counting the two previous victories discussed above, was 198-35-12 for a .833 winning percentage.

Tom Osborne took over the Cornhuskers from the retiring Bob Devaney (in a 16-year career from 1957 through 1972, Devaney compiled a 136-30-7 record and .806 winning percentage) after the 1972 season, continuing the winning tradition at the University of Nebraska. Osborne’s career mark would ultimately end up as 250-49-3 with a .836 winning percentage!

Osborne in his 25 years on the Cornhuskers’ sideline turned in some impressive statistics: 25 winning seasons, an equal number of bowl appearances (12-13-0) and his teams were ranked in the final polls every season.

He won his 100th career game in 1983, a 41-10 win over visiting UCLA (7-3-1).

In 1983, the Cornhuskers were 12-1-0; scoring 654 points; while the famed “Black-Shirt Defense” would hold the opposition to just 217 points. A heart-breaking 31-30 loss in the Orange Bowl, when a two-point conversion pass was tipped away, prevented Dr. Tom from winning his first National Championship. However, in his final four seasons as Nebraska’s coach, Osborne compiled a 49-2-0 mark and was No. 1 in three of those seasons: 1994, 1995 and 1997.

Both Yost and Osborne were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 and 1999, respectively.


Tex Noel is the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.

Most Career Wins and No Consensus National Championship

In a few short weeks, the 2011 college football season will kickoff. As with the start of every season, the same question on minds of fans, alumni and the media is “Who will be the season’s national champions?”

Many of the game’s winningest coaches have won titles; while a number of successful leaders have done well during the seasons, they just can’t seem to as the old cliché’ states: ‘Win the Big One!’

Four of college football’s winningest retired coaches—ones with at least 200 victories—never won an Associated Press (AP) title—as they have combined for 468 all-time wins; but none as a national championship coach.

Bo Schembechler won 234 games in a career that began in 1963 at Miami of Ohio; as it would end in 1988 as coach of the Michigan Wolverines; but no title.

Amazingly, of the 10 coaches that won at least 180 on this list, three have ties to the Big 10 Conference.

Two wins back of Schembechler is former Iowa Head Coach Hayden Fry; while John Cooper, who retired in 2000 after leading Ohio State to 111 of his 192 career victories, is 42 wins behind.

Don Neehlan, a former assistant under Schembechler, and Jim Sweeney are the other members with 200 career wins and no title; winning 202 and 200, respectively.

Joe Glenn, who last coached at Wyoming in 2008, is on this list as well. He did win titles at Northern Colorado in 1996-97 (NCAA II) and a 2001 NCAA 1-AA crown at Montana; two years before accepting the Wyoming job.

                Retired Coaches
Coach              Seasons            Wins
Bo Schembechler    1963-88            234
Hayden Fry         1962-98            232
Don Nehlen         1968-2000          202
Jim Sweeney        1963-77,80-96      200
John Cooper        1962-2000          192
George Welsh       1973-2000          188
Joe Glenn          1976-79,89-2008    188
Dennis Franchione  1981-82,85-2007    187
Dick Tomey         1977-2009          183
Jackie Sherrill    1976-89,91-2003    180


Among active coaches, Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer leads the way. He has been a successful coach during his career; recording 240 triumphs—the most of any coach without a title, both active and retired.

Chris Ault, who began his career in 1976 and has retired twice only to comeback, has won 219 career victories; which is second on the active list and fourth all-time.

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson are on the active Bowl Sub Division list of coaches without a crown, but both have won titles in divisions below BSD.

Johnson won back-to-back crowns with NCAA 1AA power Georgia Southern, in 1999 and 2000; while Kelly led one of the best NCAA II schools, Grand Valley State, to the 2002 and 2003 championships.

                 Active Coaches
Coach             Current Team    1st Year    Wins
Frank Beamer      Virginia Tech     1981      240
Chris Ault        Nevada            1976      219
Brian Kelly       Notre Dame        1981      178
Mike Price        UTEP              1981      169
Larry Blakeney    Troy              1991      160
Bill Snyder       Kansas State      1989      149
Gary Pinkel       Missouri          1991      150
Houston Nutt      Ole Miss          1993      132
Paul Johnson      Georgia Tech      1997      133
Tommy Tuberville  Texas Tech        1995      110


Tex Noel is the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association.

Nelson “Bud” Talbott: The First Head Coach of a College and NFL Team in the Same Season

Nelson “Bud” Talbott is a name that many people probably see in a football encyclopedia, but don’t really give too much thought to it. Most people weren’t even alive when Talbott was a notable name in football. What I find most interesting about Talbott’s football career, is that he was the first person to coach a college football and an NFL team in the same season. In 1920 and 1921, Talbott coached the now defunct Dayton Triangles of the American Professional Football Association (now known as the National Football League). He also coached the University of Dayton grid team in 1920, and in their last game of the 1921 season.

Talbott was a native of Dayton, Ohio but prepared for his college career at the Hotchkiss Prep School in Lakeville, Connecticut. Talbott left Hotchkiss for Yale and became a standout on the gridiron as a tackle in the early 1910’s. The 6’0, 189-pound Talbott, was a three-time letter winner from 1912-14; he was also a letter winner in track. Talbott was selected as a Walter Camp All-American in 1913, helping lead Yale to seven shutouts in ten games that season.

Talbott was elected team captain for the 1914 season. Back then the Yale team captain was responsible for selecting the team’s head coach. Howard H. Jones, the future coaching legend at USC, led Yale to a 5-2-3 record in 1913, in what would be his second one-year stint at Yale. Talbott chose Frank Hinkey, not Jones for the job of Yale head coach in 1914.

As team captain, Talbott helped lead Yale to a 7-2 record in 1914. Yale’s most notable victory of the year was a 28-0 shutout over Notre Dame in New Haven. Notre Dame entered the game with a 27-game unbeaten streak, and had beaten Rose Polytechnic (now known as Rose-Hulman) 103-0 the previous week. The most notable loss of the year was to Harvard. The game was notable, because it was the first ever game played at the Yale Bowl; Harvard defeated Yale 36-0.

In 1915, Talbott served as an assistant coach under Hinkey, during a disappointing 4-5 season, which led to the dismissal of Hinkey as Yale’s coach. Talbott’s time at Yale had a great influence on the rest of his career in football. In 1921, when Talbott was the head coach of the APFA’s (NFL’s) Dayton Triangles, the Chicago Staleys’ George Halas was quoted in the October 19, 1921 edition of the Chicago Tribune, saying that Talbott was using “Yale’s style of offense and defense” with the Triangles.

In 1916 the Dayton Cadets became the Dayton Triangles, and Talbott was named the head coach of the professional team. Talbott helped lead the Triangles to a 9-1 record in that season.

After serving two years in the armed forces during WWI, Talbott returned to the Triangles as their head coach in 1919. That season Talbott led the Triangles to a 5-2-1 record. In 1920, Talbott became one of the NFL’s original head coaches, as the Triangles joined the APFA (NFL). That same season, Talbott also became the head coach of the University of Dayton grid team.

In 1920, the Dayton Triangles went 5-2-2 under Talbott’s direction. The Triangles started the season 4-0-2, and were in the hunt for the NFL’s first championship; however they faded at the end of the season, losing twice to the eventual first NFL champion, the Akron Pros.

That same season, Talbott led the University of Dayton to a disappointing 2-4 record. But in the last game of the season, Dayton defeated Georgetown College of Kentucky, 6-5. It was Dayton’s first ever victory over Georgetown in four tries. On at least four weekends, Talbott coached the University of Dayton on a Saturday and the professional Triangles on a Sunday. On the weekend of November 13-14, 1920, Talbott coached two games for Dayton on Saturday, and one game for the Triangles on Sunday; winning one game with the University of Dayton, and the one with the Triangles.

It seems that coaching college football on Saturdays helped Talbott coach the Triangles on Sundays. The Triangles late season collapse occurred when Talbott’s season with the University of Dayton was over.

At least initially in 1921, Talbott didn’t continue his dual role as a head coach in college and the pros. Talbott remained the head coach of the Triangles, but didn’t return to his position of head coach at the University Dayton until the last game of the season. Talbott led the Triangles to a 4-4-1 record. In his only game coaching the University of Dayton in 1921, Talbott led the school to their first and only victory of the season; a 13-6 victory over John Carroll University.

After the 1921 season, Talbott left both the Dayton Triangles and the University of Dayton. After football, Talbott would go on to have a successful business career, as well as a successful military career. He clearly never shied away from dual roles in his life. Talbott eventually took over his family’s business, becoming the president of the Talbott Corporation. Talbott also rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force by the time he retired from the armed forces. In 1947, Talbott founded the Nelson Talbott Foundation to support conservation programs, the arts, education, and human services.

Talbott led an extraordinary life, fitting for a man who completed an extraordinary feat in football; becoming the first head coach of a college football team, and an NFL team in the same season.


Note: Originally this article was entitled Nelson “Bud” Talbott: The First Head Coach of a College and NFL Team in the Same Season. A special thanks to Ralph Hickok for pointing out that Aldo Donelli was also a head coach for a pro and college football team in the same season. Donelli coached Duquesne and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1941. Thank you for the correction.

Andrew McKillop runs the sports research blog