New Man At The Top, Rick Chamberlin Gets PFL Best 56th Win

By: Connor Hanson – Staff Writer

The man at the top, Rick Chamberlin, earned his 56th Pioneer Football League victory with an Oct. 7 win against Drake. That is good for best all-time in the PFL, as he passes his predecessor Mike Kelly, yes, the Mike Kelly, former Dayton football head coach who is now in the NCAA Hall of Fame.

“It was an accomplishment, I want to add to it of course, I don’t want to just retire now with 56, but it was a good feeling to know that I’ve been around a good place long enough to get that number because there are great coaches in the PFL and Mike [Kelly] set the standard there, and I was fortunate to be under him all those years and learn from him and be able to get the record from him. That adds to all of it. A Hall of Fame coach–and you beat his record? Shoot, who couldn’t be happy about that?” Coach Chamberlin said with a big smile on his face.

With a feat that tall hanging over his head, you might think it would be on the coach’s mind leading into the season, but not for Chamberlin, who was actually oblivious to the record until someone pointed it out to him last year.

“I didn’t even know there was such a record!” Coach Chamberlin said whilst laughing. “Then one day Doug [Hauschild, sports information director at Dayton] told me ‘Congratulations, you and Mike [Kelly] are the only two that have 50 wins in the PFL.’ I didn’t know that was something and that’s when Doug started telling me that 56 would be the record there. Again, it’s exciting, it’s definitely not something I started off with thinking that I need to get 56 wins before I leave here to get the record, but again, to be able to get it and pass Mike Kelly, that’s special, that’s really special.”

Chamberlin couldn’t even take credit for the accomplishment, dishing out some well-deserved credit to the teams he coached and the coaches he has worked with during his time. And for Chamberlin, there are a lot of people he has worked with over his tenure here at Dayton, as he has been at UD for the past 42 years.

Steven Fleming (Fr.) battling with a defender for a pass.
Alex Kenner (Sr.) rushing for a big gain.
Sean Prophit striving for the endzone.

 

He came here in 1976 as a linebacker for the University, leading the defensive unit in tackles his junior and senior years.  Now, over the span of those 42 years, Chamberlin has the ability to say that he has been a part of the program’s 370 out of 670 wins, a true feat in itself. Even the Hall of Famer Mike Kelly was impressed with what Chamberlin has accomplished here at Dayton.

“He is the real story,” said Kelly in a Dayton Athletics article, who was the defensive coordinator in the ‘70s. “Here’s a guy who went to college to play football, became a graduate assistant, an assistant coach, then a very successful defensive coordinator and now a head coach–all at the same institution. He understands the tradition of the Dayton football program, and the culture. Rick is a player’s coach. They love to play for him.”

Chamberlin always saw himself being a part of Dayton, “I saw myself here. I was hoping I could be here. I felt that I was a young man and that Dayton was my home, and I mean that’s where I was going to coach until I was done,” Chamberlin said.

However, during his early college days, Chamberlin wasn’t as certain. He originally came to Dayton desiring to become a physical therapist, so he put himself on the pre-med track. However, “After a semester of biology, calculus and chemistry, I said ‘I can’t do this!’ So, I got into education. I wanted to be a health teacher, again something to do with the physical well-being of people, and then being in the teaching and classroom and things. On top of that, I thought ‘Hey, being a football coach would be pretty cool to do along with the teaching’,” Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin would then go on to graduate from Dayton in 1980 and actually received a job offer to be an assistant-coach at Oakwood High School before he accepted an offer to be a graduate assistant with the football team here at Dayton.

The rest is Dayton history, as Chamberlin would move his way up the coaching chain before taking the head coaching spot 10 years ago from Kelly.
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Although Coach Chamberlin has been at the helm of Dayton football for years and brought a lot of change, the level of competition in the PFL has remained resilient.

“Our conference is as tough as it has ever been,” Coach Chamberlin said. “I mean from the top to the middle, anybody could win a game, as you can see with Morehead against us in the first PFL game. So, what I think it has come down to is how important recruiting is to the entire process, and the University has done a great job promoting our football program and making our players feel like they are in a Division 1 atmosphere, which is what our recruiting motto is, that we can be in a Division 1 atmosphere and so that is something I have seen grow in my 10 years here, the competition in the PFL and the branding of Dayton football here.”

Even after his 10 seasons as head coach, Chamberlin still remembers the day he got promoted to take over the void that Mike Kelly left.

“It was an exciting day, and it was a great week for me. I get named the head football coach on a Wednesday and that night, I get a call from my son and daughter-in-law and they were expecting their first child, so I was going to be a grandparent!’” Coach Chamberlin said joyfully.

However, that isn’t the only memory he remembers from his time at Dayton, as many memories of games and both coaches and players come to his mind when he reminisces. Chamberlin was able to pluck three special wins from the 370 that he has amassed so far.

“I will always remember my first game as the head coach that we won against Central State in 2008. I’ll never forget that and how nervous I was, especially at halftime when we are only up by seven. So, it was a little tough there, but I’ll remember that,” Coach Chamberlin said. “I’ll remember the ‘Hail Mary’ pass that Steve Valentino threw in the Drake game in 2010 from the 50-yard line, and Luke Bellman makes the catch, and we win the game in the final seconds. That win helped us win the league championship because that was our next to last game. Finally, probably winning the Marist game that got us into the FCS Playoffs and being able to be a part of those playoffs.”

Those games still aren’t the best thing Coach Chamberlin will remember from his time here, as nothing can top the people he has met and spent time with here at Dayton, leading to some of his best memories.

“My fondest memories are the people I get to be around–when I was a student, my teammates, my classmates, people in the dorm, my instructors, and my adviser, I still remember her, I had great times with that,” Chamberlin said. “Of course you remember different games, but it’s the people that you always remember, and that is my fondest memory.”

Photo by Griffin Quinn/Staff Photographer