Nov 22, 2011 10:56 PM by Lee Douglas/USAFA/AFCA
WACO, TEX. - Former U.S. Air Force Academy head coach Fisher DeBerry has been named the 2012 recipient of the AFCA's Amos Alonzo Stagg Award. The award, which honors those "whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football," will be presented to DeBerry at the AFCA Awards Luncheon on January 10 during the 2012 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
DeBerry retired following the 2006 season with a 23-year record of 169-109-1 at Air Force. He led 17 of his 23 teams to winning records and 12 of those teams captured a bowl bid, posting a 6-6 record. His career record is the best in school history in terms of games won and winning percentage. In December 2011, DeBerry will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his stellar coaching career.
"When I received the notification, my initial reaction was, ‘Who? Me?'" DeBerry said. "To have my name and career recognized and synonymous with the likes of Amos Alonzo Stagg, Darrell Royal, Bill Walsh and Grant Teaff, it's just overwhelming. However, I am smart enough to understand that this award reflects the contributions of so many. I have been blessed to be able to learn and serve with great coaches and wonderful players who dearly love the game. I understand too, that no turtle gets to the top of a fencepost by himself. I am truly humbled and honored to be recognized by our association that I have always loved, respected and believed to be the finest professional organization in the world. I am deeply appreciative of our executive director and board of trustees of the AFCA. I am so proud and blessed to have been a coach, and I sincerely thank all coaches for honoring me."
A native of Cheraw, S.C., DeBerry graduated in 1960 from Wofford College, where he lettered in football and baseball. DeBerry played second base and shortstop in baseball and flanker, defensive back and linebacker in football. He is a member of the Wofford Hall of Fame. After six years of coaching and teaching in the South Carolina high school ranks, DeBerry returned to Wofford where he stayed two years as an assistant when Wofford won 21 consecutive games and was ranked No. 1 in the NAIA. Wofford played Texas A&I for the national small college championship. However, it was during a nine-year stop at Appalachian State, in Boone, N.C., where his work with the wishbone began to blossom. Three times (1975, ‘78, ‘79) Appalachian State was ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing, total offense or scoring under DeBerry. In 1974, the team ranked sixth nationally in pass defense when he was defensive coordinator.
DeBerry came to the Air Force Academy as an assistant from 1980-83 before being promoted to head coach in 1984, succeeding Ken Hatfield. His success was immediate as Air Force started the 1985 season 10-0 and flirted with a national championship game appearance before finishing 12-1 with a 24-16 victory over Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl to earn DeBerry AFCA National and Regional Coach of the Year honors.
DeBerry coached the Falcons to three Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championships. Air Force won a share of the WAC championship in 1985, his second season, and again in 1995. In 1998, DeBerry guided the team to its first outright title with the WAC Mountain Division championship and a win over Brigham Young in the title game in Las Vegas. He was named WAC Coach of the Year in 1998 for the third time in his career. The 1998 team's 12-1 record completed the first back-to-back 10-win seasons in school history following a 10-3 campaign the previous year. The 1998 squad finished the season ranked 10th nationally.
DeBerry's teams ranked among the country's top 30 in total wins over the last 10 years of his career with a 71-49 mark. Only traditional national powers like Nebraska, Florida State, Tennessee, Kansas State, Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, Miami, Oregon and Texas can brag about winning more than Air Force.
DeBerry served as AFCA President in 1996. DeBerry was the second coach from Air Force to lead the AFCA. He was first elected to the Board of Trustees in 1988. In addition to his time on the Board of Trustees, DeBerry also chaired the AFCA's Ethics Committee from 2001-2005. Fisher and his wife, LuAnn, started the Fisher DeBerry Foundation in 2004. The foundation exists to provide children of single parent homes life changing opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have. They pay to send children to sports camps and other activities. It's a passion that DeBerry supports with more than just his name. DeBerry and LuAnn are deeply involved in the day-to-day activities.
The Amos Alonzo Stagg Award is given to the "individual, group or institution whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football." Its purpose is "to perpetuate the example and influence of Amos Alonzo Stagg."
The award is named in honor of a man who was instrumental in founding the AFCA in the 1920s. He is considered one of the great innovators and motivating forces in the early development of the game of football. The plaque given to each recipient is a replica of the one given to Stagg at the 1939 AFCA Convention in tribute to his 50 years of service to football.
Amos Alonzo Stagg
Amos Alonzo Stagg began his coaching career at the School of Christian Workers, now Springfield (Mass.) College, after graduating from Yale University in 1888.
Stagg also served as head coach at Chicago (1892-1932) and College of the Pacific (1933-1946). His 41 seasons at Chicago is one of the longesthead coaching tenures in the history of the college game.
Among the innovations credited to Stagg are the tackling dummy, the huddle, the reverse play, man in motion, knit pants, numbering plays and players, and the awarding of letters.
A long-time AFCA?member, Stagg was the Association's 1943 Coach of the Year.
According to NCAA records, Stagg's 57-year record as a college head coach is 314-199-35. He was 84 years old when he ended his coaching career at Pacific in 1946. He died in 1965 at the age of 103.
Past Amos Alonzo Stagg Award Winners
1940 Donald Herring, Jr., (Princeton player) and family
1941 William H. Cowell (posthumously), New Hampshire
1946 Grantland Rice, sportswriter
1947 William A. Alexander, Georgia Tech
1948 Gilmour Dobie, North Dakota State, Washington, Navy, Cornell, Boston College
Glenn S. "Pop" Warner, Georgia, Cornell, Carlisle, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Temple
Robert C. Zuppke, Illinois
1949 Richard C. Harlow, Penn State, Colgate, Western Maryland, Harvard
1950 No award given
1951 DeOrmond "Tuss" McLaughry, Westminster, Amherst, Brown, Dartmouth
1952 A.N. "Bo" McMillin, Indiana
1953 Lou Little, Georgetown, Columbia
1954 Dana X. Bible, Mississippi College, LSU, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Texas
1955 Joseph J. Tomlin, founder, Pop Warner Football
1956 No award given
1957 Gen. Robert R. Neyland, Tennessee
1958 Bernie Bierman, Mississippi A&M, Tulane, Minnesota
1959 Dr. John W. Wilce, Ohio State
1960 Harvey J. Harman, Haverford, University of the South, Pennsylvania, Rutgers
1961 Ray Eliot, Illinois
1962 E.E. "Tad" Wieman, Michigan, Princeton, Maine
1963 Andrew Kerr, Stanford, Washington & Jefferson, Colgate, Lebanon Valley
1964 Don Faurot, Missouri
1965 Harry Stuhldreher, Wisconsin
1966 Bernie H. Moore, LSU
1967 Jess Neely, Southwestern, Clemson, Rice
1968 Abe Martin, TCU
1969 Charles A. "Rip" Engle, Brown, Penn State
1970 Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf, Syracuse, Oklahoma City, Kansas, Oklahoma A&M, Kansas State, Northwestern, California
1971 Bill Murray, Delaware, Duke
1972 Jack Curtice, Stanford
1973 Lloyd Jordan, Amherst, Harvard
1974 Alonzo S. "Jake" Gaither, Florida A&M
1975 Gerald B. Zornow, business executive
1976 No award given
1977 Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder, Muhlenberg, Syracuse
1978 Tom Hamilton, Navy, Pittsburgh
1979 H.O. "Fritz" Crisler, Minnesota, Princeton, Michigan
1980 No award given
1981 Fred Russell, sportswriter
1982 Eddie Robinson, Grambling
1983 Paul W. "Bear" Bryant, Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Alabama
1984 Charles B. "Bud" Wilkinson, Oklahoma
1985 Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State
1986 Woody Hayes, Denison, Miami (Ohio), Ohio State
1987 Field Scovell, Cotton Bowl
1988 G. Herbert McCracken, Allegheny, Lafayette
1989 David Nelson, Delaware
1990 Len Casanova, Oregon
1991 Bob Blackman, Denver, Dartmouth, Illinois, Cornell
1992 Charles McClendon, LSU
1993 Keith Jackson, ABC-TV
1994 Bob Devaney, Nebraska, Wyoming
1995 John Merritt, Jackson State, Tennessee State
1996 Chuck Neinas, College Football Association
1997 Ara Parseghian, Miami (Ohio), Northwestern, Notre Dame
1998 Bob Reade, Augustana (Ill.)
1999 Bo Schembechler, Miami (Ohio), Michigan
2000 Tom Osborne, Nebraska
2001 Vince Dooley, Georgia
2002 Joe Paterno, Penn State
2003 LaVell Edwards, Brigham Young
2004 Ron Schipper, Central (Iowa)
2005 Hayden Fry, North Texas, SMU, Iowa
2006 Grant Teaff, McMurry, Angelo State, Baylor
2007 Bill Curry, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Kentucky
2008 Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers, Stanford
2009 John Gagliardi, Carroll (Mont.), St. John's (Minn.)
2010 Darrell Royal, Mississippi State, Washington, Texas
2011 Bobby Bowden, Samford, West Virginia, Florida State