44 Years • Career Record: 263-196-3 • 9 PSAC Titles • 4 NCAA Playoff appearances
Denny Douds, the all-time winningest coach in the history of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, enters his 45th season as head coach and 53rd year at East Stroudsburg University in 2018.
He is the winningest active coach in NCAA football with 263 career victories, following the retirement of Shepherd’s Monte Cater following the 2017 season.
He ranks 16th in NCAA history in career wins and seventh in games coached (462), behind only John Gagliardi, Eddie Robinson, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Pop Warner.
He ranks 10th in NCAA history in career wins at one institution.
Douds has reached numerous milestones for coaching success and longevity, and has spent 55 seasons in the coaching profession – including 52 at ESU, 44 as head coach and eight as an assistant.
He is one of 15 men to reach 40 seasons as head coach in college football history, the ninth to coach 40 years at one school, and the fifth to spend all of his 40+ year career at the same institution.
Douds set the NCAA Division II record for most games coached in 2011, surpassing Jim Malosky of Minnesota-Duluth (393 games) on October 22 against Millersville.
He set the PSAC record for career wins in 2008 with a 44-41 (OT) victory over Shippensburg, his 213th career victory, surpassing Gene Carpenter of Millersville.
Douds, the only PSAC coach who is an active member of the teaching faculty at their school (following the retirement of Dr. George Mihalik at Slippery Rock in December 2015), was the recipient of ESU’s Great Teacher Award in the fall of 2013.
Douds’ coaching career at ESU has spanned 52 years and six decades since he took over as head coach in 1974 following eight years as an assistant coach. He has been part of 308 of the 479 wins in program history in his 52 seasons. As head coach, he has mentored 24 Associated Press Little All-Americans, six AFCA All-Americans and six finalists for the Harlon Hill Award, including quarterback Jimmy Terwilliger, who won the award in 2005.
ESU was 4-7 in 2016, ending a run of four consecutive years with at least a .500 record. The previous decade (2000-09) featured a 77-34 record, nine winning seasons, three NCAA Division II Playoff appearances and two PSAC East championships.
The Warriors made their fourth-ever trip to the NCAA postseason – all under Douds’ leadership – in 2009, with an 8-3 regular season record before falling to Edinboro in the first round of the playoffs. ESU went 9-2 in 2008, which included the PSAC record-setting 213th win of Douds’ career with a 44-41 overtime victory against Shippensburg.
ESU’s other NCAA Division II Playoff trips came in 1991, 2004 and 2005. In 2005, the Warriors won three straight playoff games to claim the Northeast Region championship before bowing out in the national semifinals. ESU’s 11-3 record set a school record for wins in a single season.
ESU’s seven straight winning seasons from 2000-06 was the longest such streak of Douds’ career. The Warriors put together six consecutive winning seasons from 1975-1980 after going 5-5 in Douds’ first season at the helm, and he has sported a winning record as a head coach ever since.
The senior head football coach in the country continues to bring the same love and enthusiasm for coaching young men as when he took over as head coach in 1974.
A native of Indiana, Pa., Douds was a high school coach in Erie, Pa. for two years and an assistant coach at West Virginia University for one year before accepting an assistant coach position at ESU in 1966.
He started as the Warriors’ tight ends and linebackers coach under head coach Charlie Reese, and then became the team’s defensive coordinator in 1968. After eight seasons assisting Reese, Douds took over as the school’s eighth head football coach.
Dating back to Jack Gregory (1959-65) and Reese (1966-73), ESU has had just three head football coaches in the last half-century.
Under Douds’ direction, the Warriors have captured nine PSAC Eastern Division titles with solo first-place finishes in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983 and 1991 and ties for the top spot in 1980, 2002 and 2003.
Before the PSAC championship game was eliminated in 1987, the Warriors won overall crowns in 1975, 1978 and 1982 and tied for the title with Shippensburg in 1976.
The 1975 and 1976 teams were both unbeaten and compiled a 19-game winning streak before the 14-14 tie with Shippensburg in the 1976 PSAC title game. The 1978 squad finished 10-1 and scored the most one-sided win in PSAC championship game history, winning 49-4 over Clarion.
The 1982 team won the school’s first ever Lambert Trophy as the top Division II football team in the East and was selected as the ECAC Division II Team of the Year.
The 1991 squad gained the school’s first-ever NCAA Division II Playoff berth after winning the PSAC Eastern Division title, while the 2004 team advanced to the second round of the playoffs and tied the previous school record for wins with a 10-2 mark.
The 2005 team broke the school record with 11 wins, won the Lambert Trophy and produced five All-America selections. Record-setting quarterback Jimmy Terwilliger received the Harlon Hill Award as the most outstanding player in Division II football, and was joined on All-America teams by kicker Mark Brubaker, fullback Anthony Carfagno, punter Ken Parrish and wide receiver Evan Prall.
Other recent All-Americans include Nick Krut, the nation’s leading punter in 2008, three-time All-America linebacker Matt Freed (2008-10), defensive tackle Bryan Thomson (2012), fullback Thomas Tippett (2013), Harlon Hill finalist quarterback Matt Soltes (2015) and wide receiver Jon Schnaars (2015), DII’s leading receiver as a senior.
Terwilliger, the son of offensive coordinator Mike Terwilliger, has played a significant role in the latest chapter of Douds’ career. Terwilliger finished his career in 2006 with 16 ESU and 18 NCAA records, including tying the all-division record with 148 touchdown passes. He also held Division II records for passing yards (14,350) and total offense (16,064). Terwilliger threw for 4,571 yards and 50 TDs to claim the Harlon Hill Award as a junior in 2005.
Terwilliger, a four-time Harlon Hill candidate and three-time finalist, is one of eight Warriors who have been Hill candidates since 1989. Five are quarterbacks – James Franklin, Damian Poalucci, Terwilliger, Ray Wagner and Soltes.
One of Douds’ many career highlights came in January 2014 when Franklin was named head coach at Penn State after three years at Vanderbilt.
Douds has been honored by his peers many times. He was named the Kodak College Division Coach of the Year three times (1975, 1976, 1982), the PSAC Coach of the Year twice (1975, 1978) and the PSAC East Coach of the Year three times (1976, 1982, 2002).
In 1976, he was the first unanimous winner of the Stan Lomax-Irving T. Marsh Award as selected by the New York Football Writers’ Association as the Eastern College Division Coach of the Year.
As a player, Douds was a standout lineman for Slippery Rock University as a right guard on offense and a nose tackle on defense. His play earned him All-Conference, All-State and NAIA All-America honors. He was named the school’s outstanding senior athlete in 1962-63.
That same year, Douds was co-captain of the Slippery Rock football team which won the conference title by beating ESSC, 13-6, in the 1962 State Game.
He has been an active member of the American Football Coaches’ Association and is an active volunteer for charitable and church activities in the community.
In addition to his football coaching duties at ESU, Douds is an assistant professor of Sport Studies.
He is a member of four Athletic Halls of Fame — ESU, Slippery Rock University, Indiana County and Northeast Pennsylvania. He was inducted into the ESU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
Douds and his wife Judy, also a Slippery Rock graduate, celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary on June 20, 2018. They have two children and five grandchildren.