Former college football coach and athletic administrator Jack Lengyel has been chosen as the 2018 recipient of the AFCA’s highest honor, the Tuss McLaughry Award. Lengyel will receive the award at the American Football Coaches Awards on January 9 during the 2018 AFCA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected for the American Football Coaches Association’s Tuss McLaughry Award, and to be associated with those legendary former recipients,” Lengyel said. “I want to thank my wife Sandy, my children David, Julie and Peter, for their dedicated support throughout my career. I stand on the shoulders of my former players, coaches, mentors, supporters and family, and share this award with each and every one of them.”
Lengyel began his coaching career at his alma mater, Akron, in 1959. He moved on as an assistant at Heidelberg for two years before taking another assistant coaching spot at Cornell (N.Y.) in 1963. After three years at Cornell, Lengyel was named the head coach at the College of Wooster in 1966. He guided the Fighting Scots to 24 victories in his five years as head coach, including an 8-1 season his final year. Lengyel also served as the head lacrosse coach at Wooster for three years.
In 1971, Lengyel was hired as the head coach at Marshall and tasked with the huge responsibility of rebuilding the football program after most of the coaches and players were killed in a plane crash on November 14, 1970, returning from a game against East Carolina. He was forced to recruit players from other sports on campus and use a large number of walk-ons to build a roster for the 1971 season. Even though the football team managed only two wins in 1971, Lengyel helped guide the program and the school through one of the worst sports disasters in American history. In 2006, Warner Bros. produced the movie, “We Are Marshall,” with Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey playing Coach Lengyel and tells the story of him rebuilding the program.
After leaving Marshall, Lengyel worked in the private sector for a few years before returning to college athletics as the associate athletic director at Louisville in 1978. He moved on as associate athletic director at Missouri in 1980 before becoming athletic director at Fresno State in 1983. After serving four years with Bulldogs athletics, Lengyel returned to Missouri as athletic director in 1986. He would spend two years with the Tigers before embarking on a 14-year run as athletic director at Navy. He retired from Navy in 2001, only to return as an interim athletic director at Temple, Eastern Kentucky and Colorado between 2002-05.
Lengyel received the 2005 John L. Toner Award from the National Football Foundation for his years of service at Navy. He has held leadership posts in numerous professional organizations including the National Association of College Directors of Athletics, the 1-A Directors of Athletics Association, the College Football Association, the NCAA, the Big Eight Conference, and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Lengyel is currently the vice president of business development for XOS Digital/Catapult, a sports media and technology company. He is married to Sandy Lengyel and they have three children: David Lengyel, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps (retired); Peter Lengyel, retired Commander, U.S. Navy; and Julie Logan, a jewelry designer. The couple has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. David and Peter are former graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy. David is the retired NASA Risk/Knowledge Management Officer for Human Space Flight. Peter is the current president and CEO of Safran USA, an aerospace and defense technology provider. Julie is a designer/maker of jewelry and lives with her attorney husband in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Tuss McLaughry Award is given to a distinguished American (or Americans) for the highest distinction in service to others. It is named in honor of DeOrmond “Tuss” McLaughry, the first full-time secretary-treasurer of the AFCA and one of the most dedicated and influential members in the history of the Association. The award was established in 1964.
Tuss McLaughry began his coaching career at his alma mater, Westminster (Pa.) College in 1916. During his early days in coaching, McLaughry spent his spare time playing pro football with the Massillon (Ohio) Tigers. Knute Rockne was a teammate. He went on to become head coach at Amherst (1922-25), Brown (1926-40), and Dartmouth (1941-55). His most successful years were at Brown, where he had a 15-year record of 76-58-5. In 1926, McLaughry produced Brown’s only undefeated team. Two of his other teams at Brown had only one loss.
McLaughry retired from coaching in 1954, but continued in his capacity as chairman of the Physical Education Department at Dartmouth until 1960, when he accepted the appointment with the AFCA. He retired from that position in 1965.
McLaughry played a leading role in the development of the AFCA while at the same time establishing a reputation as a successful head coach at some of the most prestigious schools in the East. He worked diligently throughout his lifetime to advance the best interests of the football coaching profession.
Past Tuss McLaughry Award Winners
1964 Gen. Douglas MacArthur, armed forces
1965 Bob Hope, entertainer
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. President
1967 Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President
1968 J. Edgar Hoover, director, FBI
1969 The Reverend Billy Graham, evangelist
1970 Richard M. Nixon, U.S. President
1971 Edwin Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronauts
1974 John Wayne, actor
1975 Gerald R. Ford, U.S. President
1977 Gen. James A. Van Fleet, armed forces
1979 Jimmy Stewart, actor
1980 Lt. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, armed forces
1981 Dr. Jerome Holland, educator, business executive
1982 Robert Crippen & John Young, astronauts
1983 Ronald Reagan, U.S. President
1985 Pete Rozelle, NFL Commissioner
1986 Gen. Pete Dawkins, armed forces
1987 Gen. Chuck Yeager, armed forces
1988 Lindsey Nelson, sportscaster
1989 George Shultz, U.S. Secretary of State
1990 Burt Reynolds, actor
1993 Tom Landry, Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys
1994 Charley Boswell, armed forces
1996 Eddie Robinson, Head Coach, Grambling St.
1998 George Bush, U.S. President
2001 Andrew Young, United Nations Ambassador
2002 Roger Staubach, businessman, NFL Hall of Famer
2003 Stephen Ambrose, Author and historian
2004 Gen. Tommy Franks, armed forces
2005 Dr. Christopher Kraft, NASA
2007 Paul Tagliabue, NFL Commissioner
2008 Tom Osborne, Head Coach, Nebraska
2009 Rudy Giuliani, former mayor, New York City
2010 Tony Dungy, Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts
2013 Robert Mueller, Director, FBI
2014 Jeffrey Immelt, CEO, General Electric
2016 William McRaven, Chancellor, University of Texas System
2017 Grant Teaff, AFCA Executive Director, Head Coach