University of Dayton Football
There is no question Harry C. Baujan developed University of Dayton football from a small-school minor sport into a mid-major team that could play with most other Ohio and Midwestern colleges, but he also developed a culture that spawned other great coaches to follow.
John McVay, who also coached in the NFL and was in the front office during San Francisco’s great run of Super Bowls, coached the Flyers, as did Rick Carter and Mike Kelly, coaches who led UD to Division III National championships (Carter in 1980, Kelly in 1989).
Kelly even well-surpassed Baujan’s winning record, going 246-54-1 in 27 seasons and landing in College Football’s Hall of Fame. And he coached Jon Gruden, who played some at UD, but made his fame as a Super Bowl-winning NFL coach.
Rick Chamberlain, who played for and took over for Kelly, has carried on the tradition, and is the first former player in the program to become head coach.
But it was Baujan – he was called The Blond Beast, in a polite way, at UD - who is credited with elevating the UD football program.
Baujan, a Notre Dame grad, coached the Flyers 21 seasons, from 1923-46, winning more than 65 percent of his games (124-64-8) while posting only three 4-5 losing seasons, in 1923, ’29 and ’36. At the end of his run, he became UD’s athletics director, retiring at age 71 in 1964.
Baujan was born May 24, 1894, in Beardstown, Ill., became a regular on the 1914-16 Notre Dame team as a 5-foot-8, 167-pound end. He was part of 21 victories in 25 games under coach Jess Harper and an assistant named Knute Rockne.
Following military duty during WWI, Baujan played pro football in Massillon and Cleveland from 1919-21 and rowed a boat from his flooded home in Beardstown to the nearest rail station so he could interview for a UD job.
He got it, as an assistant for a year before taking over the program. At UD, he also coached basketball, baseball and track.
A few of the many outstanding Flyers during the Baujan years were: ends Skeeter Eisele, Bob Payne; tackles Ralph Niehaus, Bill Belanich, Tony Furst; guard Paul Wagner; center Duncan Obee; backs Jack Padley, Lou Mahrt, Ducky Swan, Vince McDonough, Sneeze Achiu and Coley McDonough.
In 1961, UD Stadium was renamed “Baujan Stadium,” honoring his many years of service. He was named in 1962 to the Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame, in 1970 to the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame and in 1990 posthumously to the prestigious National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. He passed away December 30, 1976, in Dayton, at the age of 82.