Woody Widenhofer

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Woody Widenhofer
Sport(s)Football
Biographical details
Born(1943-01-20) January 20, 1943 (age 70)
Butler, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1961–1964Missouri
Position(s)Linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1969–1970
1971
1972
1973-1978
1979-1983
1984
1985–1988
1989–1992
1993–1994
1995–2001
2003–2004
2005–2007
2009–2010
Michigan State (DL)
Eastern Michigan (LB)
Minnesota (LB)
Pittsburgh Steelers (LB)
Pittsburgh Steelers (DC)
Oklahoma Outlaws
Missouri
Detroit Lions (DC)
Cleveland Browns (LB)
Vanderbilt (DC/HC)
SE Louisiana (DC)
New Mexico State (DC)
Alabama Blackbirds
Head coaching record
Overall27–71–1 (college)
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse
 
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Woody Widenhofer
Sport(s)Football
Biographical details
Born(1943-01-20) January 20, 1943 (age 70)
Butler, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1961–1964Missouri
Position(s)Linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1969–1970
1971
1972
1973-1978
1979-1983
1984
1985–1988
1989–1992
1993–1994
1995–2001
2003–2004
2005–2007
2009–2010
Michigan State (DL)
Eastern Michigan (LB)
Minnesota (LB)
Pittsburgh Steelers (LB)
Pittsburgh Steelers (DC)
Oklahoma Outlaws
Missouri
Detroit Lions (DC)
Cleveland Browns (LB)
Vanderbilt (DC/HC)
SE Louisiana (DC)
New Mexico State (DC)
Alabama Blackbirds
Head coaching record
Overall27–71–1 (college)
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse

Robert "Woody" Widenhofer (born January 20, 1943) is a former college football head coach and longtime NFL assistant. He has been announced as the head coach of the Alabama Blackbirds of the United National Gridiron League, a new minor league that was scheduled to begin play in February 2009, but whose debut has been delayed indefinitely.

Widenhofer is best known for helping the Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain" defense that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. He later served unsuccessful tenures as head coach at Missouri and Vanderbilt University.

Widenhofer attended Riverview High School in Riverview, Michigan and played linebacker at Mizzou from 1961–1964 under coach Dan Devine. He went on to receive a master's degree at Michigan State University.

Coaching career[edit]

Widenhofer began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State where he coached the defensive line. Widenhofer then moved to Eastern Michigan and Minnesota where he served as linebackers coach. After several years as a college assistant, Widenhofer was hired to coach linebackers for the Steelers in 1973. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1979. By the time he left after the 1983 season, Widenhofer had won four Super Bowls and made the postseason nine times. Many experts believe Widenhofer's defense at Pittsburgh was the greatest in professional football history.

He spent one year as head coach of the short-lived United States Football League team, the Oklahoma Outlaws, before landing an opportunity at his alma mater, bolstered by a much-remembered ad campaign that urged Tigers fans to "climb on Woody's Wagon". While Widenhofer's team showed slow improvements, he only managed a 12–33–1 record in four seasons at Missouri from 1985 to 1988.

Widenhofer returned to the NFL for six years as an assistant coach, serving as defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions under head coach Wayne Fontes, followed by two years as linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns under head coach Bill Belichick. He then joined friend Rod Dowhower's staff at Vanderbilt to serve as defensive coordinator. When Dowhower was fired after the 1996 season, Widenhofer was promoted to head coach. In 1997, his Vanderbilt team led the SEC in total defense. However, his second tenure as head coach was no easier than the first, as Widenhofer compiled only a 15–37 record in five seasons at the helm for VU. Widenhofer resigned in 2001. While unsuccessful on the field, the NCAA announced that Vanderbilt led the nation in football graduation percentage with a perfect 100% the year he left.

Widenhofer considered retiring, but ultimately joined friend Hal Mumme as an assistant at Southeastern Louisiana University and later New Mexico State University. Widenhofer announced he was retiring from coaching following the season finale game against Fresno State on November 30, 2007.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Widenhofer has five children: Kim, Stacy, Ryan, Ross, Katlyn and a granddaughter Addison. After his recent retirement from football, Widenhofer now resides in Florida with his wife Sabrina.[2]

After leaving the Vanderbilt campus in 2001, Woody recently worked in a toll both in Destin, Florida for three years. Woody states that he didn't have anything else to do and enjoys meeting people. However, recently his wife Sabrina, who works for Spirit Airlines, got transferred to Dallas, TX. Woody has not returned to the Vanderbilt campus since his departure. [3]

Head coaching record[edit]

College[edit]

YearTeamOverallConferenceStandingBowl/playoffs
Missouri Tigers (Big 8 Conference) (1985–1988)
1985Missouri1–101–6T–7th
1986Missouri3–82–56th
1987Missouri5–63–45th
1988Missouri3–7–12–56th
Missouri:12–31–18–20
Vanderbilt Commodores (Southeastern Conference) (1997–2001)
1997Vanderbilt3–80–86th (East)
1998Vanderbilt2–91–75th (East)
1999Vanderbilt5–62–65th (East)
2000Vanderbilt3–81–75th (East)
2001Vanderbilt2–90–86th (East)
Vanderbilt:15–404–36
Total:27–71–1

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
George Perles
Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Coordinator
1979–1983
Succeeded by
Tony Dungy
Preceded by
Unknown
Detroit Lions Defensive Coordinator
1989–1993
Succeeded by
Herb Paterra