A true wingman

Keith Piper, head football coach from 1954 to 1992

On Saturday, the Columbus Dispatch celebrated the life and legacy of Keith Piper, the longtime Denison football coach who passed away in 1997.

During his 39 years as head coach at Denison, Piper compiled a 200-142-19 record. In 1985 and 1986, the Niles, Ohio, native  guided his teams to 10-0 and 9-1 seasons, earning back-to-back NCAC championship titles and NCAC Coach of the Year honors. Piper’s success, in large part, owed to his revival of the single wing offense. By the early 1950s, the single wing, a staple of early football, largely had disappeared from collegiate and professional ranks. At the time of Piper’s retirement in 1992, Denison was the only remaining college in America to utilize the offense. In recent years, many college and professional teams have brought back features of the single wing under the guise of the “wildcat” offense.

Since the origin of college football in 1869, only 28 coaches have earned 200 wins at the same school. That list includes names like Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and, of course, Denison’s own Woody Hayes ’35. In the fall of 1999, Denison rededicated and named its home stadium in honor of the legendary coach.

The single wing formation

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