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Former Air Force head football coach Fisher DeBerry addressing reporters on media day at the U.S. Air Force Academy following his team's first practice of 2006 season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Danny Meyer)
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DeBerry elected to College Football Hall of Fame

Posted 5/17/2011   Updated 5/17/2011 Email story   Print story


from USAF Academy Athletics Department

5/17/2011 - USAF Academy, Colo. -- Former Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, according to an announcement today from the National Football Foundation Board of Directors. DeBerry, along with the other inductees, will be honored at the National Football Foundation's Annual Awards Dinner in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Joining DeBerry in the class of 2011 will be former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, Florida receiver Carlos Alvarez, Texas defensive lineman Doug English, Oregon State fullback Bill Enyart, Ohio State running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, Alabama defensive lineman Marty Lyons, Miami defensive lineman Russell Maryland, Florida State defensive back Deion Sanders, Georgia defensive back Jake Scott, Nebraska guard Will Shields, Minnesota quarterback Sandy Stephens, West Virginia linebacker Darryl Talley, Oklahoma halfback Clendon Thomas, Arizona defensive lineman Rob Waldrop and Michigan State receiver Gene Washington.

DeBerry served as head coach at Air Force for a brilliant 23-year career which concluded with his retirement on Dec. 15, 2006. His mark on the program, the Academy and college football is unmistakable. The 72-year-old South Carolina native and his Air Force program served as the epitome of what is right and good in collegiate athletics.

His record stands alone at Air Force and stands up against the best in the nation. He led 17 of his 23 teams to winning records and 12 captured a bowl bid, posting a 6-6 record. His career record of 169-109-1 is the best in school history in terms of games won and winning percentage.

When you look at DeBerry's whole body of work, it's hard to believe he's done it all while coaching at a service academy that plays in a very competitive conference.

He coached the Falcons to three conference championships. The team won a share of the Western Athletic Conference 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 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 defeated Notre Dame three times, his most recent victory over the Irish came in '96, 20-17 in overtime in South Bend. His Falcons dominated the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy series with archrivals Army and Navy. Air Force won the trophy 14 times and shared it once in DeBerry's tenure. He compiled a remarkable 35-11 record against the Black Knights and Midshipmen and is the winningest coach in service academy history.

DeBerry came to the Academy as an assistant from 1980-83 before the Academy promoted him 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 including a 24-16 beating of Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl to earn DeBerry the national coach of the year award.

DeBerry became one of the most respected coaches in the game for his efforts off the field as well. In 1996, DeBerry served as president of the powerful and prestigious American Football Coaches Association, a 10,000-member organization headquartered in Waco, Texas, and founded in 1922 by Amos Alonzo Stagg and John W. Heisman, among others. DeBerry has also served as chairman of the AFCA ethics committee. He was honored by the Independence Bowl as a member of its Hall of Fame. In 2005, DeBerry was honored with induction into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in the class of 2005.

DeBerry has received other impressive awards for his efforts on and off the field during his career. He received the State Farm Coach of Distinction award in 2001, joining coaches like Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee and Tyrone Willingham of Washington as recipients. He was also inducted into the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Wofford during its graduation ceremony in 2003.

A native of Cheraw, S.C., DeBerry graduated in 1960 from Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., 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.

The coach grew up in rural Cheraw, S.C., (pop. 5,505), where ball fields seemingly out-number everything but the surrounding watermelon and cotton fields. It was there that DeBerry discovered sports. In high school, DeBerry was a four-sport letterwinner. He lettered five times in baseball, three each in football and basketball and twice in track. He was an all-state selection in baseball and football and played in the all-state football game.

DeBerry was born June 9, 1938. His wife, LuAnn, grew up just around the corner from the DeBerry home in Cheraw. They have a son (Joe) and daughter (Michelle) and seven grandchildren. The DeBerrys 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. The coach and LuAnn are deeply involved in the day-to-day activities.

DeBerry year-by-year

Year Overall Conf. Bowl

1984 8-4-0 4-3/3rd Independence

1985 12-1-0 7-1/T1st Bluebonnet

1986 6-5-0 5-2/3rd ---

1987 9-4-0 6-2/3rd Freedom

1988 5-7-0 3-6/6th ---

1989 8-4-1 5-1-1/2nd Liberty

1990 7-5-0 3-4/6th Liberty

1991 10-3-0 6-2/3rd Liberty

1992 7-5-0 4-4/6th Liberty

1993 4-8-0 1-7/9th ---

1994 8-4-0 6-2/T2nd ---

1995 8-5-0 6-2/T1st Copper

1996 6-5-0 5-3/4th ---

1997 10-3-0 6-2/2nd Las Vegas

1998 12-1-0 7-1/1st O'ahu

1999 6-5-0 2-5/7th --

2000 9-3-0 5-2/2nd Silicon Valley

2001 6-6-0 3-4/T5th --

2002 8-5-0 4-3/T3rd San Francisco

2003 7-5-0 3-4/T4th --

2004 5-6-0 3-4/T4th --

2005 4-7-0 3-5/7th --

2006 4-8-0 3-5/T6th --

Totals 169-109-1 100-73-1 Bowls 6-6-0

DeBerry notes

Winningest coach in AFA history

169-109-1 overall record

.608 winning percentage

100-73-1 conference record

.578 conference winning percentage

90-43 career record in Falcon Stadium

Conference‚ÄąCoach of the Year ('85, '95, '98)

National Coach of the Year ('85)

Three conference titles ('85, '95, '98)

12 post-season bowl games (6-6 record)

35-11 in Commander-in-Chief's Trophy games

19 All-American players

127 all-conference players

11 Academic All-Americans

9 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners

6 seasons with at least nine wins

11 seasons with at least eight wins

11 seasons with five or more conference wins

Fisher DeBerry Bio:

Date of Birth: June 9, 1938

Hometown: Cheraw, SC

Wife: LuAnn

Children: Michelle, Joe

Years in Coaching: 44

Education: Wofford, 1960 (Bachelors in Education)

Pittsburgh, 1963 (Masters in Education)

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