Occidental College Football Coach Dale Widolff Notches 100th Victory
Highlighting a winning season, Occidental College football head Coach Dale Widolff entered the 100-win club in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) with a 27-15 victory Oct. 28 over century-old rival Pomona-Pitzer.
The win adds to Widolff’s stature as the winningest football coach in Oxy history. It also moves him into the top ranks of SCIAC’s most successful gridiron coaches, among them John Godfrey of Whittier College and Frank Serrao of the University of Redlands.
“Getting a hundred wins in one spot is particularly meaningful,” said the 47-year-old Widolff, a Pasadena resident. “I’ve had the benefit of working with some real good, hard-working assistants who taught me as much as I taught them. I really like it here. The people have always treated me with a lot of respect and I appreciate that. I’ve had opportunities to coach Division I, but the kids are the reason I stay. They’re bright, they’re funny, they’re respectful. I think they have the right priorities.”
Widolff became the all-time Oxy football wins leader in 1989, when he won his 54th game against the University of San Diego. Former Head Coach Roy Dennis was the College’s prior victories leader with a record of 53-40-4 from 1945-56.
Under Widolff, the Tigers have amassed a 100-75-2 record over 19 seasons. Widolff took over Oxy coaching duties in 1982 and he is the longest serving football coach in College history. Throughout the 1980s, Widolff is credited with boosting the quality of play in the SCIAC. Starting in 1983, the Tigers won three consecutive SCIAC championships, each including a trip to the national playoffs. Widolff earned Division III Region 5 coach of the year honors in 1983 and 1985. After a second-place finish in 1986, Occidental shared the SCIAC title in 1987 and won it outright in 1988 and 1989.
“Institutions felt if Occidental has had that kind of success, why can’t we? The people we play are making more of a commitment than they used to,” Widolff said. “Redlands used to have only one full-time coach. Whittier only had one full-time coach. We had an impact on how people approached football in the SCIAC.”
Widolff’s hallmark win against Pomona-Pitzer is noteworthy because of the long history of the rivalry. The match-up is the oldest west of the Rockies. The colleges first played in 1895, then again in 1900 and every year since except for two years during World War II. Widolff has tallied a 16-6 record against the Sagehens. This year’s Tiger squad finished at 5-4 (2-3 in the SCIAC).
“Dale makes a pretty strong statement as the winningest football coach in Occidental history,” Oxy Athletic Director Dixon Farmer said. “But I think he’s from that bolt of cloth where he’s going to spend more time being pleased with the relationships he’s had with the kids over the years.”
Widolff graduated in 1975 from Indiana Central University (now the University of Indianapolis), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies – secondary education. He also played center and outside linebacker. In 1984, he earned his master’s degree in physical education from Indiana State University. Prior to arriving at Occidental in 1980, Widolff served on the coaching staffs at Kansas State, University of Pennsylvania and ISU.
In his first two years at Occidental, Widolff served as defensive coordinator. In 1982, his first year as head coach, he guided the Tigers to a 5-5 record and third place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Several members of Widolff’s coaching staff have gone on to professional careers from Oxy. They include Tom Melvin, an offensive assistant with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles; Jim Barker, offensive coordinator with the new Los Angeles Xtreme; Gary Etcheverry, defensive coordinator for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League; and Bill Dobson, an Oxy alumnus and an offensive line coach with the Rough Riders.
Student athletes who have played under Widolff include Daryl Ogden, an English professor at Georgia Tech University, Daniel Osborn, a partner in a New York law firm, and Harvard University Medical School graduates Gary Little and Curtis Page.