Football legend has guided UAlbany from club to top FCS conference
ALBANY, N.Y. (August 13, 2013) -- It all began in 1967 when President Evan R. Collins created an ad hoc University Athletics Counsel to study the future of athletics at the University at Albany. The Counsel suggested the addition of a football team and the President approved, leaving the task of hiring the man who personally would build and design the program. On April 27, 1970, it was announced that Dr. Robert M. Ford had been chosen to guide UAlbany’s fledging team.
After 43 years on the sidelines, UAlbany football coach Bob Ford has announced he will retire at the end of the season. (Photo Mike Farrell, Times Union photo used by permission)
Forty-three years, 436 games, and 255 varsity wins later, Ford has announced that he will coach his final season in 2013. Ford made the announcement Tuesday at the program’s annual media luncheon.
Ford, who will turn 76 years old on Sept. 11th, is the longest active tenured coach in all of college football. At one time, Ford was the youngest head football coach in the nation when the 26-year-old took over the reins at St. Lawrence University in 1965. He will end his career as the nation’s oldest.
With 264 career victories, Ford ranks second among all active college football coaches and first among NCAA Division I active coaches. He has won four Northeast Conference Coach of the Year honors and led the Great Danes to six NEC titles.
Ford built the UAlbany program from the ground up, taking the Great Danes from a club team to an NCAA Division I FCS contender.
Ford laid the program’s groundwork quickly at the start of his tenure, leading the Great Danes to a 30-21 victory over the Rochester Institute of Technology in the program’s first clash on October 10, 1970 at University Field.
After three seasons at the club level, Ford steered the Danes to Division III varsity status in 1973. From there, “The Architect of UAlbany Football” led the program to a 127-88 record in 22 Division III seasons, and continued to carry the Danes through the college ranks, moving to Division II in 1995. UAlbany went 31-12 in the DII era and won back-to-back Eastern Football Conference championships in 1997 and 1998.
Nearing the new millennium, UAlbany moved up the ladder again to the NCAA Division I FCS level in 1999, becoming an associate member the Northeast Conference. In 2002, UAlbany captured its first of six NEC titles and wrapped up the 14-season era with its last in 2012. Ford also led the program to their first NCAA FCS playoff appearance in 2011.
For the past 43 years, head coach Bob Ford and University Field have been the program’s two constant fixtures. However, this fall the two will become one when the Great Danes settle into their new home -- Bob Ford Field. The deservingly named pristine on-campus 8,500 seat stadium features a lighted turf playing surface, state-of-the-art video board, and luxury suites.
In addition, Ford will once again lead the Great Danes into a new competitive era this fall, as they play their first season in Colonial Athletic Association – one of the nation’s premier FCS power conferences. UAlbany opens Bob Ford Field, as well as kicks off its inaugural CAA contest on Sept. 14th at 7 p.m. against Rhode Island.