DeBerry to Receive 2012 Amos Alonzo Stagg Award
Former U.S. Air Force Academy head coach Fisher DeBerry has been named the 2012 recipient of the AFCA’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Award. The award, which honors those “whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football,” will be presented to DeBerry at the AFCA Awards Luncheon on January 10 during the 2012 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
DeBerry retired following the 2006 season with a 23-year record of 169-109-1 at Air Force. He led 17 of his 23 teams to winning records and 12 of those teams captured a bowl bid, posting a 6-6 record. His career record is the best in school history in terms of games won and winning percentage. In December 2011, DeBerry will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his stellar coaching career.
“When I received the notification, my initial reaction was, ‘Who? Me?’” DeBerry said. “To have my name and career recognized and synonymous with the likes of Amos Alonzo Stagg, Darrell Royal, Bill Walsh and Grant Teaff, it’s just overwhelming. However, I am smart enough to understand that this award reflects the contributions of so many. I have been blessed to be able to learn and serve with great coaches and wonderful players who dearly love the game. I understand too, that no turtle gets to the top of a fencepost by himself. I am truly humbled and honored to be recognized by our association that I have always loved, respected and believed to be the finest professional organization in the world. I am deeply appreciative of our executive director and board of trustees of the AFCA. I am so proud and blessed to have been a coach, and I sincerely thank all coaches for honoring me.”
A native of Cheraw, S.C., DeBerry graduated in 1960 from Wofford College, where he lettered in football and baseball. DeBerry played second base and shortstop in baseball and flanker, defensive back and linebacker in football. He is a member of the Wofford Hall of Fame. After six years of coaching and teaching in the South Carolina high school ranks, DeBerry returned to Wofford where he stayed two years as an assistant when Wofford won 21 consecutive games and was ranked No. 1 in the NAIA. Wofford played Texas A&I for the national small college championship. However, it was during a nine-year stop at Appalachian State, in Boone, N.C., where his work with the wishbone began to blossom. Three times (1975, ‘78, ‘79) Appalachian State was ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing, total offense or scoring under DeBerry. In 1974, the team ranked sixth nationally in pass defense when he was defensive coordinator.
DeBerry came to the Air Force Academy as an assistant from 1980-83 before being promoted to head coach in 1984, succeeding Ken Hatfield. His success was immediate as Air Force started the 1985 season 10-0 and flirted with a national championship game appearance before finishing 12-1 with a 24-16 victory over Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl to earn DeBerry AFCA National and Regional Coach of the Year honors.
DeBerry coached the Falcons to three Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championships. Air Force won a share of the WAC championship in 1985, his second season, and again in 1995. In 1998, DeBerry guided the team to its first outright title with the WAC Mountain Division championship and a win over Brigham Young in the title game in Las Vegas. He was named WAC Coach of the Year in 1998 for the third time in his career. The 1998 team’s 12-1 record completed the first back-to-back 10-win seasons in school history following a 10-3 campaign the previous year. The 1998 squad finished the season ranked 10th nationally.
DeBerry’s teams ranked among the country’s top 30 in total wins over the last 10 years of his career with a 71-49 mark. Only traditional national powers like Nebraska, Florida State, Tennessee, Kansas State, Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, Miami, Oregon and Texas can brag about winning more than Air Force.
DeBerry served as AFCA President in 1996. DeBerry was the second coach from Air Force to lead the AFCA. He was first elected to the Board of Trustees in 1988. In addition to his time on the Board of Trustees, DeBerry also chaired the AFCA’s Ethics Committee from 2001-2005. Fisher and his wife, LuAnn, started the Fisher DeBerry Foundation in 2004. The foundation exists to provide children of single parent homes life changing opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. They pay to send children to sports camps and other activities. It’s a passion that DeBerry supports with more than just his name. DeBerry and LuAnn are deeply involved in the day-to-day activities.