George Welsh (American football)
August 26, 1933|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
Penn State (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
2 ACC (1989, 1995)
College Football Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2004 (profile)
George Welsh (born August 26, 1933) is an American former college football player and coach. He served the head football coach of the Navy Midshipmen football team of the United States Naval Academy from 1973 to 1981, and the Virginia Cavaliers football team of the University of Virginia from 1982 to 2000. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2004.
Welsh was born in Coaldale, Pennsylvania. He played for the Navy Midshipmen from 1952 to 1954, and was a first-team All-American at quarterback in 1955. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1956, he served as an assistant coach under Rip Engle and Joe Paterno at Penn State from 1963 to 1972. Welsh began his head coaching career at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1973. He inherited a Navy Midshipmen football program that had only had one winning season since the end of the Roger Staubach era. He led the Midshipmen to three bowl game appearances and their first nine-win season in 16 years. In nine seasons, Welsh compiled a record of 55–46–1, making him the service academy's most successful coach.
In 1982, Welsh left Navy to become the head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers. He walked into a situation even worse than the one he had inherited at Navy. Prior to his arrival, Virginia had only two winning seasons in the previous 29 years and had never been to a post-season bowl game. The Cavaliers had also only one winning record in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play, had only finished higher than fourth twice, and had only won 33 conference games in 29 years of ACC play. Welsh turned around the program quickly, leading Virginia to a win in the school's first-ever bowl appearance, the 1984 Peach Bowl. In 1987, Virginia started a streak of 13 straight seasons with seven or more wins. This stretch included shared ACC titles in 1989 and 1995 and 11 additional bowl appearances, but never an unshared ACC Championship. His teams also compiled four nine-win seasons, including a school-record 10 wins in 1989. His 1990 team was ranked No. 1 in both polls for two weeks in October--the only time a Division I team from the Commonwealth has been ranked No. 1 in a major poll. His 1995 team defeated Florida State 33-28 on November 2, the first time the Seminoles had lost a conference game since joining the conference. He retired after the 2000 season due to health concerns.
In 19 years as the Cavaliers' head coach, he became the most successful coach in school and Atlantic Coast Conference history. His conference win totals were later surpassed by Bobby Bowden of Florida State, but he remains far and away the most successful coach in UVa history (his 134 wins are more than double those of runner-up Al Groh). He was named ACC Coach of the Year four times (1983, 1984, 1991 and 1995) and National Coach of the Year once (1991).
Upon his retirement after the 2000 season, his 189 career victories ranked him 24th in Division I-A history.
Head coaching record
- Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Inductees, George Welsh. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- George Welsh at the College Football Hall of Fame
- George Welsh at the College Football Data Warehouse
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