November 23, 2021
On Campus

Wittenberg Names New Head Football Coach

Alumnus and veteran college coach Jim Collins set to take the reins on Dec. 1

Wittenberg University is pleased to announce the hiring of veteran coach, 1988 alumnus, and former Tiger football wide receiver Jim Collins as the new head coach of Wittenberg football. Collins, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Dayton (UD), is expected to take the helm on Dec. 1, 2021.

“We are extremely excited to welcome back former Wittenberg Tiger Jim Collins as our head football coach,” said Brian Agler, vice president and director of athletics and recreation. “Jim is a proven winner who has coached championship teams. He has ‘lived’ the Wittenberg University football tradition. Being elite in all facets is the standard in our football program, and we are confident that Coach Collins will embrace this standard daily.”

Collins comes to Wittenberg with an impressive resume spanning 30 years of coaching success. Prior to his current post at UD, he served as the director of player personnel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (2019), which followed 11 years at Saginaw Valley State (2008-2019) where he served as the head coach. In that time, Collins led his team to three straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division Championships from 2011-2013, as well as three NCAA Division II playoff appearances (2009, 2011, 2013). Collins’ teams also ranked in the final National Poll twice (2009, 2013) and final Regional Poll six times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018).
Additionally, from 1997-2007, Collins served as the head coach at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where he was named Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Coach of the Year on three separate occasions (2001, 2003, 2006). While there, Collins led his team to three NCAA Division III Playoff Appearances (2005, 2006, 2007), and his team was ranked in the final National Poll three times (#3 in 2006, #5 in 2005, #13 in 2007). During Collins’ tenure at Capital, his teams had a perfect 5-0 record against Wittenberg, including a 54-0 win in Springfield. In 2006, Collins led Capital to two wins over Wittenberg, including a victory in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Early in his career, Collins was the head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach for the University of Dubuque (1994-1996). Prior to that, he served as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and wide receivers coach at Illinois Wesleyan (1991-1993), where he helped lead the Titans to the 1992 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title and an NCAA Division III Playoff berth.

Described as “a high energy leader with a proven track record of building and directing successful football programs, developing a winning culture, setting a standard of excellence, emphasizing high academic achievement, developing talent, and aggressively recruiting outstanding student athletes,” Collins called the opportunity to head the football program at Wittenberg “a dream.”

“This is the job I’ve dreamed of my whole career, and I am humbled to join the list of exceptional coaches at my alma mater. Wittenberg is the total package: A life-changing experience, excellence in academics, high moral and ethical values, and a tradition-rich athletic program that is second to none.”
Wittenberg Football Head Coach Jim Collins '88

Collins also praised Wittenberg’s newly renovated and expanded 265,000-square-foot Health, Wellness, and Athletics Complex as providing a significant competitive advantage.

“The new facility is cutting edge and the best in all of Division III,” he said, adding that it “rivals those at some Division I schools.”

Thinking back on his own time as a Tiger, Collins shared how the football team shaped his career trajectory, having had the honor of playing for Ron Murphy in a program built by National College Football Hall of Famers Bill Edwards and Dave Maurer.

“The coaching staff at Wittenberg created a passion in me to want to be around the game and have the same impact on other people’s lives that they had on me,” Collins said.

While at Wittenberg, Collins, who hails from Cincinnati, was named captain and Team MVP his senior year. In 1985, he earned the team’s Most Improved Offensive Player of the Year. He ranked second in program history for all-time career receptions in 1987 with 116, and he was a three-time All-OAC selection.

“We are honored to welcome Jim back home to lead the Tiger football program, which inspired him years ago,” said Wittenberg President Mike Frandsen. “In Jim, we have a champion for student success at every level and a leader who understands the power of a Wittenberg education to change lives.”

Looking ahead, Collins has his eye on one primary outcome: “Our goal is to win a National Championship. But even deeper than that, we want Wittenberg’s football program to be the most respected in the country – not just for the way we play on the field, but for the way we compete in the classroom and conduct ourselves in the community.”

To do so, Collins will focus on building strong relationships and creating an atmosphere of high standards, accountability, and support.

“At the heart of our program will be an environment where people genuinely care about each other,” Collins said.  “When it comes to a standard of excellence, you need to have a clearly defined vision of what that means, and establish a culture where people are passionate about the vision and accountable to one another. We are going to constantly strive to be the best at everything we do, and we are going to do it with class and a value system that everyone associated with Wittenberg University will be proud of.”

Collins, who has been a member of the American Football Coaches Association since 1991, serving on the Rules Committee and All-American Committee, received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wittenberg and his master’s degree in athletic administration from Central Michigan University. He is married to Brooke Bevilacqua Collins, Wittenberg class of 1988, and together they have three grown children, Zachary, Ryan, and Brady.

In returning to Wittenberg, Collins assumes the reins of a program that has won five national championships and 33 conference titles over more than a century of gridiron excellence. The Tigers have the second-highest win total among NCAA Division III programs, and Wittenberg has not posted a losing record since 1954. Wittenberg ended 7-3 overall and 7-2 in the NCAC in 2021, good for a second-place finish.

Collins replaces Joe Fincham, who recently announced his retirement after compiling a record of 224-51 in 25 years leading the Tigers.

Gridiron Tradition
With five national championships, 33 conference championships, 20 undefeated regular seasons and nearly 800 all-time victories (second-most among NCAA Division III programs), Wittenberg University football has a long, proud and storied tradition.
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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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