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September 2, 2019
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ESPN’s Top 50 Pick

Wittenberg Football Earns Spot on List of Most Successful All-Time Programs

On the same day that Wittenberg University welcomed students in the Class of 2023 to kick off the start of the 2019-20 school year, the famed Tiger football program was recognized for its tremendous success spanning more than a century.

On Aug. 15, ESPN.com published an article titled “The 50 best college football programs over 150 years” with the stated goal to “Honor the accomplishments of teams across 150 seasons and all divisions, while rewarding successful programs at the highest level in the sport’s most competitive era.” This ambitious project encompassed football programs across all three NCAA divisions and utilized a variety of metrics.

The ranking begins in a predictable way, featuring NCAA Division I scholarship programs Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, and Michigan in the top six positions. However, universities competing in lower divisions populate much of the rest of the list, starting with Yale at No. 7. The Wittenberg Tigers, owners of five national championships since 1960, are the third of five current NCAA Division III members to earn a spot in the ranking, checking in at No. 27.

The article justifies Wittenberg’s inclusion with this entry:

“The Tigers are the traditional Division III power in Ohio not located in Mount Union. There aren't many Division III schools that can boast of a former NFL coach leading their program. Bill Edwards, who coached the Detroit Lions in 1941 and 1942, won two national titles at Wittenberg from 1955 to 1968. Nor are there many Division III schools that have sent three head coaches to the College Football Hall of Fame (Edwards, Ernie Godfrey, Dave Maurer). The current coach, Joe Fincham, has done everything but win it all (210-45, .823, since 1996).”

The ESPN.com paragraph offers a snapshot of Wittenberg’s glorious gridiron history. Not only have the Tigers been dominant as a member of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) since joining the league in 1989 (three straight league titles and 16 overall in 30 years), but Wittenberg ranks second all-time amongst current NCAA Division III members with 773 victories since its first recorded season in 1892.

“Every day, we talk to our current student-athletes about the importance of tradition and what it means to be a Wittenberg Tiger. We take great pride in representing a program carefully built by College Football Hall of Famers like Edwards, Godfrey, Maurer and Charlie Green, and we are equally proud to represent every fan who has ever cheered us on from the stands. This is a wonderful community with a rich tradition and an equally bright future. We’re thrilled that ESPN.com included us in this prestigious ranking.”
Wittenberg Football Head Coach Joe Fincham

Wittenberg was the first NCAA Division III program to reach 700 all-time victories, and the Tigers won two of the first three championships after the division was formed in 1973. Wittenberg has recorded a whopping 20 undefeated regular seasons in its illustrious history.

The Tigers open the 2019 season with a road trip to Washington & Jefferson on Saturday, Sept. 7. The game, which kicks off at 1 p.m., will be televised on ESPN3 as well as a variety of local and regional television stations, including WRGT 45.2 My Network in Dayton (45.2 over-the-air, Spectrum 995, and Dish Network 44).

Ryan Maurer
Ryan Maurer
Senior Writer and Web Communications Specialist

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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