Responsible for bringing a dormant Syracuse University football program back to life, the charismatic and colorful Dick MacPherson was one of the most successful coaches in school history.
Hired to replace Frank Maloney in 1980, MacPherson steadily built the Orangemen into an Eastern football power. One of SU’s most stunning wins during MacPherson’s tenure came in 1984 when the Orangemen upset then No. 1 Nebraska, 17-9, in the Carrier Dome.
MacPherson coached the Orangemen from 1980 to 1990 and went to five bowl games. In 1985, SU chalked up three shutouts and earned a berth in the Cherry Bowl. In 1987, the nationally-ranked Orangemen posted an undefeated season which ended with a 16-16 tie against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.
“Coach Mac” received a number of National Coach of the Year awards after SU’s 11-0-1 season in 1987. Overall, MacPherson led SU to appearances in the Cherry, Sugar, Hall of Fame, Peach and Aloha Bowls. He ended his SU tenure with a 66-46-4 career record.
MacPherson left the SU program in 1990 to become the head coach of the New England Patriots for two seasons. Still a revered member of community, MacPherson remains involved in the SU program as a radio analyst. He received one of college football’s highest honors in 2009 when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Sadly, Coach Mac passed away August 8th, 2017.
1950-1954: U.S. Air Force
1954-1958: Springfield College, BA degree. Played varsity football for three years. Senior captain; undefeated team in 1956
1959-1960: Assistant Freshman Coach at University of Illinois while attending graduate school
1960: University of Massachusetts wrestling, freshman football coach and taught physical education
1961-1965: Assistant coach at University of Cincinnati
1966: Defensive backfield coach at University of Maryland
1967-1970: Linebacker and defensive backs coach, Denver Broncos
1971-1977: Head coach at UMass; Won four Yankee Conference Championships, took team to Boardwalk Bowl, posted record of 45-27-1.
MacPherson's 45 victories rank third all-time in UMass history. His squads also posted a 28-8-1 mark in Yankee Conference games, and his .778 winning percentage ranks fifth-best in league history. He was the first coach in UMass history to win eight or more games in three different seasons. His nine-win campaign in 1972 tied the school record for single-season victories. He named New England Coach of the Year twice
1978-1980: Linebackers coach, Cleveland Browns
1980-1990: Head Coach at Syracuse University. Took SU teams to the Cherry, Sugar, Hall of Fame, Peach and Aloha Bowls and had a 3-1-1 in post-season bowl record. Record at SU was 66-46-4
1987: Won Lambert Trophy, went to Sugar Bowl, finished 11-0-1
1991-1992: Head coach, New England Patriots
2002: Chairman of the Empire State Games, Local Organizing Committee’s Silver Anniversary team.
2003: Gridiron Club of Greater Boston’s Man of the Year Award
2009: Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
Other awards and honors: Kodak American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers, NCAA, Washington D.C. Touchdown Club, New York Football writers, UPI, Sporting News, Scripps Howard, Toyota, Water Camp, CBS/Chevy, MacGregor and Bud Lite’s Coach of the Year, Received the Blind Men and Criers annual “Lew Andreas Award” (1991), Inducted into the State of Maine Sports Hall of Fame (1985) and the Springfield College Hall of Fame (1988).
MacPherson has delivered numerous commencement address and has received three Honorary Doctor of Humanities degrees from Springfield College, Maine Maritime Academy and the University of New England. He is involved in dozens of community projects including Salvation Army, Diabetes Association, New York State Parks and many other causes and charities