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.