DelVal’s Bill Manlove named to College Football Hall of Fame

May 25, 2011

By Ed Kracz

Bill Manlove arrived at Delaware Valley College nearly 20 years ago as a coaching success story. Given the state of the football program at the time, he wanted to add another chapter.

Unfortunately, not many wins were included on those DelVal pages, but Manlove helped identify several things that were eventually adopted by the school that, in turn, helped lead to the Aggies' decade-long resurgence as a championship program.

Manlove, now 78, dedicated his life to coaching college football, and continues doing so to this day, having spent the last nine years as an assistant with the Aggies. On Tuesday, college football gave back when it was announced that he would be inducted into the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF).

Manlove will be inducted as a member of the Division Class, which considers players and coaches from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA), Divisions II, III, and the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).

Included in the class are former Dayton coach Mike Kelly and former players Dexter Coakley (Appalachian State), Charles Haley (James Madison), Mike Favor (North Dakota State), and Mickey Kobrosky (Trinity, Conn.).

Also going in is a Division I class that included Desmond Howard, Barry Alvarez and Gene Stallings. The Enshrinement Festival will be held in South Bend, Ind., July 15-16.

“I sure didn't get it based on my winning record at DelVal as a head coach,” said Manlove, who lives in Doylestown. “When you take a job, you're supposed to get the job done right. I think the best thing I did was tell them what they needed to do, and they did some of those things and it worked.”

While Manlove won just 10 games and lost 29 during his four years (1992-95) on the DdelVal campus, he had already racked up 211 wins in 21 years as Widener University's head coach.

The winningest coach in Widener history, he led the Pride to two national championships, seven Division III playoff berths, 10 Middle Atlantic Conference titles, and a streak of 21 straight winning seasons from 1970-90. He was a two-time ABC/Chevrolet Division III Coach of the Year and nine-time MAC Coach of the Year.

“The first thing I did when I went there – no one in the league had really recruited and I had been at Lafayette for two years before that and learned a little about recruiting,” said Manlove. “We weren't getting any players. I said, ‘We have to go out and look for them. We have to get better players.’

“Then we adopted a system and didn't change it. We lived with the system. We made some adjustments, but we always stayed with it. And we kept getting good players.”
Manlove points out some of the memorable Widener moments:

  • The 1977 national championship. “We never anticipated being that good. We just blossomed as the season went along.”
  • The 1981 national championship. “That was a shocker. We had our best talent in 1980 when we went to the semifinals, were ahead of Dayton 24-0 but lost 28-24. We lost 22 or 23 players from that team, but the next year, our kids didn't know how to lose. In the playoffs that year, we were behind in all three games, but came back to win.”
  • The 1990 team. “It was one of our most rewarding years. We weren't very good but we lost only two games and tied one. We only scored 17 offensive touchdowns, but we played great defense and probably set a special teams record when we scored eight or nine touchdowns.”

Manlove probably could have won 300 games had he stayed at Widener, but, he said, “it was time to move on. I think I outlived my usefulness at Widener. Plus, I wanted another challenge. I love challenges. DelVal was a good challenge.”

Delaware Valley hadn't had a winning season on the football field since 1985 when Manlove got to town, but even he couldn't manage to give them one, so he left to resurrect a program at La Salle University that had been dormant since 1941. It took him just four years to post a winning season with the Explorers.

“The best way to describe Bill is, he's an unbelievable football coach, but he's that much better a human being,” said DelVal head coach Jim Clements. “He's the nicest guy I have ever met and he would do anything for you.”
In 2001, Manlove returned to the DelVal sideline as an assistant to then-coach G.A. Mangus and discovered some of his recommendations for turning around the Aggies had been implemented.

“I was the only full-timer; everybody else was part-time,” he said. “I said we needed more full-timers.”

DelVal now has the equivalent of four to five full-timers in addition to Clements.

Manlove also wanted some things done differently with financial aid packages, not specifically targeting football players, but in general. He also said the facilities needed to be improved, and DelVal has done that with a re-sodded playing field and refurbished locker rooms. It also didn't help Manlove's cause that there were four college presidents in his four years as head coach.

“Continuity was necessary,” he said. “We had trouble retaining players early on.”

When Mangus left Delaware Valley, his successor, Clements, opted to keep Manlove on staff. Clements had been recruited to Widener by Manlove and played his freshman year there under him.

“When I came to DelVal, I was really fortunate to reconnect with Bill as a coach, but, more importantly, as a man,” said Clements. “I am extremely fortunate to have Bill Manlove with me as someone to lean on, knock things around with on offense, defense, special teams, Xs and Os, and even the running the daily football operations, its pitfalls, its ups and downs.”

Said Manlove: “I just wanted to come back because I felt it could be good. Given the right circumstances, it would be good.”

He was right.

Listen to a Podcast interview with Manlove