Bearcat Coaching Legacy

The University of Cincinnati has been well-represented on the lists of professional and college coaching greats, a legacy which continues ion 2005 with a proliferation of former Bearcat mentors, assistant coaches and players in the NFL, CFL and major university ranks.

Sid Gillman has long been the standard-bearer for Bearcat coaching greats. Gillman, whose 50-13-1 record in his six seasons in the late 1940s and early 1950s is the winningest mark at UC, is one of the few coaches to earn induction into both the college and professional football halls of fame. His UC success vaulted him into the NFL, with the Los Angeles Rams.

Two other members of the College Football Hall of Fame, Frank Cavanaugh and George Little, launched their head coaching careers at UC. Cavanaugh, the legendary "Iron Major" for his accomplishments as a coach and war hero at Army, in 1898, and Little, who earned fame at Michigan and Wisconsin, in 1914-15.

One-time Bearcat mentors Homer Rice (1967-68), and Chuck Studley (1961-66) were NFL head coaches at Cincinnati and Houston, respectively, as were former assistants Leeman Bennett (Atlanta) and Jack Faulkner (Denver).

Up North, former Bearcat player and coach Dave Ritchie directed British Columbia and Winnepeg to Grey Cup titles, the Canadian Football League's Super Bowl, a feat that former UC quarterback Danny Barrett would like to match as head coach at Saskatchewan.

Nick Skorich, a member of the UC Athletic Hall of Fame for his football prowess in the 1940s, was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns.

Tom Rossley, who set many UC receiving records and had a distinguished career in the college coaching ranks, including a stint as head coach at SMU, is among Bearcats currently in the NFL. Rossley is offensive coordinator at Green Bay. Another recent Bearcat, Bill Davis, is defensive coordinator at San Francisco. Former UC aide Bill Sheridan is linebackers coach for the New York Giants while John Harbaugh, another UC assistant, is special teams coach at Philadelphia.

UC's representation in the college coaching ranks is highlighted by a trio of former assistants. Paul Dietzel, an aide to Gillman in 1949-50, directed LSU to the national title in 1958 and later coached at Army and South Carolina. Dick MacPherson, a UC assistant in the early 1960s, concluded a distinguished career at Syracuse. Don Nehlen, on the 1963 UC staff, was West Virginia's winningest coach following his 21 seasons there. Other UC assistants to garner head coaching positions include Foge Fazio (Pittsburgh), Mark Duffner (Holy Cross), Chuck Stobart (Toledo, Utah, Memphis), Lou West (Indiana State) and Ron Zook (Florida, Illinois).

Joe Morrison, a standout as a Bearcat player and later in the NFL, achieved similar success during his 15 seasons as a major college head coach. Urban Meyer, a Bearcat in the mid-1980s and later a student assistant coach, is carving out an impressive career at Florida following successful stints at Bowling Green and Utah.


Former Bearcat Players and Coaches
Pro Coaches Last UC Season, Pos. Most Recent Assignment+
Danny Barrett 1982, player Saskatchewan
Leeman Bennett 1968, asst. Atlanta Falcons
A.J. Christoff 2002, asst. Asst., San Francisco
Frank Claire 1955, asst. Asst., Ottawa
Joe Daniels 2000, asst. Asst., Cleveland Browns
Bill Davis 1988, player Def. Coord., San Francisco
Jack Faulkner 1954, asst. Denver Broncos
Sid Gillman 1954, H.C. Los Angeles, San Diego
John Harbaugh 1996, asst. Special Teams Coach, Philadelphia
Harry Hiestand 1993, asst. Asst., Chicago Bears
Dick MacPherson 1965, asst. New England
Homer Rice 1968, H.C. Cincinnati Bengals
Dave Ritchie 1988, asst. British Columbia, Winnepeg
Tom Rossley 1968, player Off. Coord., Green Bay
Mike Scarry 1962, asst. Asst., Miami Dolphins
Bill Sheridan 1991, asst. Asst. New York Giants
Nick Skorich 1942, player Cleveland Browns
Bill Smyth 1946, player Ottawa
Chuck Studley 1966, H.C. Houston Oilers
Mike Tomlin 2000, asst. Asst., Tampa Bay
Jeff Uhlenhake 2004, asst. Asst., Cleveland Browns
Bob Wylie 1996, asst. Asst., Arizona
Larry Zierlein 2000, asst. Asst., Cleveland
College Head Coaches Last UC Season, Pos. Most Recent Assignment
Watson Brown 1983, H.C. UAB
Frank Cavanaugh 1897, H.C. Army
Paul Dietzel 1950, asst. LSU, South Carolina
Foge Fazio 1976, asst. Pittsburgh
Mark Duffner 1980, asst. Holy Cross
Mike Gottfried 1982, H.C. Kansas, Pittsburgh
George Little 1915, H.C. Michigan, Wisconsin
Dick MacPherson 1965, asst. Syracuse
Urban Meyer 1984, player Florida
Joe Morrison 1958, player South Carolina
Don Nehlen 1963, asst. West Virginia
Chuck Stobart 1966, asst. Memphis
Lou West 1993, asst. Indiana State
Ron Zook 1982, asst. Illinois
+Head Coach, unless otherwise noted Active coaches in bold