Dick McPherson inducted into College Football Hall of Fame

By Nick O'Malley

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While Massachusetts coach Kevin Morris begins his career at the helm for the Minutemen, a UMass coaching legend has been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Former coach Dick McPherson, who led the Minutemen to four Yankee Conference Championships in his seven years at UMass, was one of 18 inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009. Other inductees include Lombardi Trophy winners Chris Spielman of Ohio State, Grant Winstrom of Nebraska, Heisman Trophy winners Tim Brown of Notre Dame and Gino Torretta from Miami.

McPherson, who has an all-time record of 111-73-5, is already a member of the UMass Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2004.

The 2009 class of inductees was announced in December of 2008 by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. The official induction into the hall itself in South Bend, Ind. will not occur until the summer of 2010.

McPherson coached at UMass from 1971-77, earning the third most wins in school history (45) before going on to coach at Syracuse University from 1981-90. His tenure marked an era of newfound success for UMass as he became the first coach in school history to produce three eight-win seasons.

The Minutemen reached the postseason for the first time under McPherson’s watch, losing to Lehigh University in the Division II NCAA Playoffs. He was also the coach during UMass only bowl game victory, defeating the University of California at Davis in the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl after coaching the Minutemen to nine wins for the first time since 1901.

McPherson’s teams dominated conference play. His .781 winning percentage with a 28-8-1 record is the fifth best mark ever for a Yankee League coach.

Those Minuteman teams churned out a number of great players, with 55 players earning first team all-conference honors and seven players getting named first team All-America. Seven of McPherson’s players also reached the professional ranks.

McPherson continued his success after he moved on to Syracuse during the 1980’s. He remains the school’s third-leading coach in wins (66) and seasons coached (10).

While leading the Orange, McPherson’s teams reached five bowl games, going 3-1-1. Syracuse’s best year under the coach came in 1987 when the team went an undefeated 11-0-1, tying Auburn in the season-concluding Sugar Bowl. McPherson was also named 1987 NCAA Coach of the Year. The Orange ended the season ranked No. 4 in the country by the Associated Press.

McPherson remains affiliated with Syracuse today, acting as the color commentator for Syracuse Football radio broadcasts.

Nick O’Malley can be reached at [email protected]