Kent State Golden Flashes football
|Kent State Golden Flashes football|
|Athletic director||Joel Nielsen|
4th year, 12–35 (.255)
|NCAA division||Division I FBS|
|Past conferences||Ohio Athletic Conference|
|All-time record||320–499–28 (.394)|
|Bowl record||0–3 (.000)|
Navy Blue and Gold|
|Marching band||Marching Golden Flashes|
The Kent State Golden Flashes football team is a varsity intercollegiate athletic team of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. The team is a member of the Mid-American Conference East division, which is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). The Golden Flashes played their first game in 1920 and since 1969 have played their home games at Dix Stadium. The head coach since December 2012 is Paul Haynes, a Kent State alumnus who played for the Flashes from 1987–91.
The first attempt to establish a football team was in 1914, one year after the first classes were held on campus and four years after the school was founded in 1910. The team played two practice games against local high schools, but was discontinued by the athletic board and faculty to focus on basketball season. While there was hope the team would return for the 1915 season, no team was established until 1920. The team played their first game October 30, 1920, against Ashland College, a 6–0 loss under coach Paul Chandler. The first Kent State home football game was held November 6, a 7–0 loss to sister school Bowling Green. The final game of the season was a home game scheduled against St. Ignatius College of Cleveland, but the game was not played and counted as a forfeit win for Kent. The team would not record their first true victory until November 14, 1925, a 7–6 win over West Liberty State College. Outside the forfeited win in 1920, Kent State would fail to score in their first 14 games, posting a record of 0–13–1 before finally putting points on the board in a 7–6 loss to West Liberty in 1923. During that streak, Kent State would suffer the worst loss in school history, a 118–0 loss to Baldwin–Wallace College, also in 1923. Following the 7–6 loss to West Liberty, a new shutout streak began which lasted 8 games, in which the Flashes, then known as the "Silver Foxes" went 0–6–2. The streak began with the second most lopsided loss in school history, an 82–0 loss to Slippery Rock. The streak finally ended with a 6–6 tie with the Indiana (PA) Normal School in 1925, the game which preceded Kent State's first true victory. Kent State posted their first winning season in 1928, going 4–2–2.
Ohio Athletic Conference
Kent State would join the Ohio Athletic Conference beginning in the 1931 season, playing in the OAC through the 1950 season except for the 1943–1945 seasons, which were cancelled due to American involvement in World War II. Under coach G. Donald Starn, who coached Kent State from 1935–1942, the Flashes would begin to taste success, posting winning seasons in 1938 (6–2), 1940 (8–1), and 1942 (5–3). During their time in the OAC, the Flashes never won a conference title, but did finish second in 1940 with a 4–0 conference record. The team finished third in both 1948 and 1949, going 3–0 and 2–0 respectively in conference play.
Coach Trevor Rees
In 1946, the program was revived after the conclusion of World War II under coach Trevor Rees, who would coach the Flashes to their first era of consistent success. During his tenure, which lasted 18 seasons, the Flashes would post winning seasons in all but 5 of them. In 1950, the team opened their first true stadium, Memorial Stadium, by defeating Marietta College 57–0. The next season saw the Golden Flashes join the Mid-American Conference. Rees would guide the team to its first bowl appearance in the 1954 Refrigerator Bowl. Rees coached Kent State from 1946–1963, posting a record of 92–63–5 (.591).
In 1971, Don James took over as head coach. Under James, and with notable players such as Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and former Pittsburgh Steelers middle linebacker Jack Lambert, current Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban, and former Missouri Tigers football coach Gary Pinkel, Kent State was finally able to celebrate its first—and so far only—Mid-American Conference title in 1972 followed by a trip to the 1972 Tangerine Bowl. James would coach at Kent State four seasons (1971–1974), posting an overall record of 25–19–1 (.567) which included a 9–2 record in 1973. James left after the 1974 season to accept the head coaching job at the University of Washington, where he would eventually win the 1991 national championship.
Following the departure of Don James, the team's fortunes began to decline. Although James' successor Dennis Fitzgerald, who coached for three seasons (1975–77), was able to lead the team to an 8–4 record and second-place MAC finish in 1976 and a winning 1977 season, by 1979 the team was once again at the bottom of the MAC, going 1–10. From 1975–1993 Kent State had 7 different coaches with no coach lasting beyond three seasons. Also during that time period, the Flashes had three winless seasons and two 1-win seasons. Glen Mason was hired in 1986 and in his two seasons in Kent posted two consecutive 2nd place MAC finishes including a 7–4 overall mark in 1987, the Flashes' first winning season since 1977. Following the 1987 season, Mason was hired by the Kansas Jayhawks. Kent State alumnus Nick Saban was a finalist to succeed Mason, but the position instead went to former North Carolina coach Dick Crum. Saban was named coach at MAC rival Toledo, his first head coaching position, in 1990.
Former Flashes standout Jim Corrigall began in 1994 and became the first coach since Don James to coach more than three seasons, though he lasted only four. Dean Pees was hired in 1998 and suffered through the Flashes' most recent winless season (0–11 in 1998) before leading the team to a slow recovery. In 2001 Kent State posted their first winning season since 1987 when they were led by quarterback Joshua Cribbs to a 6–5 overall record, 5–3 in the MAC. Pees would leave Kent State after the 2003 season to take a job with the New England Patriots; Pees once the Linebackers coach, is now the Defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. Head coach Doug Martin began his tenure in 2004. His best season was the 2006 season, which saw Kent State go 6–6 overall and 5–3 in the MAC, finishing second in the East division. Kent State began the 2010 season with hopes of contending for a MAC title, but early losses at Miami and Toledo ended any hope for a title. The team did record its first-ever sell-out at Dix Stadium on October 9 when a crowd of 24,211 watched the Flashes defeat the arch-rival Akron Zips 28–17 to reclaim the Wagon Wheel. In the days following a 38–3 loss at Western Michigan, which dropped the team's record to 4–7 and 3–4, Doug Martin announced his resignation, effective at the conclusion of the season. The team responded with a 28–6 upset win over the first-place Ohio Bobcats at Dix Stadium to finish with a record of 5–7 overall and 4–4 in the MAC. Martin finished his tenure with a record of 29–53 (.354) overall and 21–35 (.375) in the MAC. Darrell Hazell, an assistant coach at Ohio State, was hired December 20, 2010, as the team's 20th head coach.
In Hazell's first season, 2011, the team had two three-game losing streaks, but also had a five-game winning streak in the latter half of the season. Kent State dropped their first three contests, which included losses at eventual BCS national champion Alabama and Kansas State and a home loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Hazell's first win at Kent State came on September 24, in a 33–25 win over South Alabama at Dix Stadium. The team then dropped their first three MAC games before defeating Bowling Green, which was the start of a five-game winning streak that included a 35–3 win over arch-rival Akron at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field, Kent State's first win in Akron since 2003. The season ended with a 34–16 loss at Temple. The Flashes finished third in the MAC East with a 5–7 record overall and 4–4 in the MAC.
The 2012 season began with a 41–21 win over Towson at Dix Stadium, followed by a 47–14 loss at Kentucky. Following the loss, the Flashes defeated Buffalo at University at Buffalo Stadium and followed that with a come-from-behind 45–43 win over Ball State in Kent. A 31–17 win over Army at Michie Stadium was the first victory for Kent State over a non-conference team on the road since 2007. The winning streak reached six, the longest for Kent State since 1940, after a 35–23 win over undefeated and 18th-ranked Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium. The win was the Flashes' first over a ranked opponent after entering the game 0–22 against ranked teams. The win earned Kent State votes in the October 28, 2012 AP Poll, Coaches' Poll, and the Harris Interactive College Football Poll. The team continued winning, beating Akron in the Battle for the Wagon Wheel game at Dix Stadium, followed by a 48–32 win over the Miami RedHawks at Yager Stadium. The win over Miami set a new team record for consecutive victories in a season at eight and tied the 1973 team for most wins in a season at nine. On November 11, the Flashes were ranked 25th in the weekly AP poll, their first time being ranked since November 5, 1973, when they were ranked 19th for one week.
Kent State clinched their first-ever MAC East Division title and spot in the 2012 MAC Championship Game with a 31–24 win over Bowling Green at Doyt Perry Stadium on November 17. Following the win over Bowling Green, the Flashes rose to #23 in the AP poll and entered the Coaches' and Harris polls at #25. Kent State was also ranked for the first time in the Bowl Championship Series standings at #23. The team climbed as high as 17th in the BCS standings following their regular season-ending win over Ohio at Dix Stadium on November 23, which clinched their first-ever undefeated season in MAC play and set a record for most wins in a season with 11. They were also mentioned as a potential BCS Buster. Kent State, however, fell in overtime to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game. Following the loss to NIU, Kent State accepted the invitation to play in the 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Darrell Hazell accepted the head coaching position at Purdue on December 5, but Purdue granted Hazell permission to coach Kent State in the bowl game, the first bowl appearance by the Flashes since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl. Paul Haynes, a Kent State alum who had previously been an assistant at Arkansas, was hired December 18. Kent State fell to Arkansas State 17–13 to finish 11–3 overall.
|1972||Mid-American Conference||Don James||6–5–1 (4–1–0)|
|Total conference championships||1|
Kent State was a MAC East Division champion during the 2012 season.
|Year||Coach||Conference Record||Overall Record||Outright/Shared||Bowl Game|
|2012||Darrell Hazell||8–0||11–2||Outright||GoDaddy.Com Bowl|
|1-time MAC East Champions|
Division I-A/FBS Bowl Games
|1972||Tangerine Bowl||December 29, 1972||Tampa||L 21–18|
|2012||GoDaddy.com Bowl||January 6, 2013||Arkansas State||L 17–13|
|Total||2 bowl games||0–2|
Other bowl games
The Flashes' home field is Dix Stadium, located along Summit Street on the eastern edge of the KSU campus just east of Ohio State Route 261. The stadium opened in 1969 and has a seating capacity of 25,318. Dix Stadium features a FieldTurf playing surface, which was installed in 2005. It was originally a natural grass field until 1997, when an Astroturf surface was installed. From 1997 to 2004, the stadium also hosted the Kent State field hockey team until a new facility for field hockey was built immediately north of the stadium in 2005.
Dix Stadium was most recently renovated in two phases in 2007 and 2008. Phase one included construction of a large canopy over the press box, new entrance gates, and a ticket office, all completed prior to the 2007 season opener. Phase two included the demolition of the south end zone seats and construction of a new high definition scoreboard, concession area, and plaza in the sound end zone area.
Adjacent to the stadium to the north are two natural grass practice fields. Immediately east of the stadium is the Kent State Field House, which opened in 1990. The Field House includes a full-size football field, a six-lane indoor track, and a weight training room named for Kent State football alumnus James Harrison. The building, one of the first indoor football facilities built in Ohio, is also used by several other Kent State athletic teams during the year and is the home indoor venue for the men's and women's track teams. It includes locker rooms for women's soccer, field hockey, softball, and men's and women's track.
Dix Stadium is the third facility the Flashes have called home. From the team's inception in 1920 through the 1940 season, they played at Rockwell Field, which was located adjacent to the original campus buildings on what is now known as The Commons. Rockwell Field was shared with the track and baseball teams and was plagued with drainage and quality issues its entire existence as an athletic field. For seating, it initially had no seating before primitive wooden bleachers were added in the 1930s. At its peak, the bleachers held approximately 3,000 people, with crowds reported for some games as large as 5,000. In 1941, the team moved to the new Athletic Field along Summit Street, a Works Progress Administration project that included separate football and baseball fields, with the football field surrounded by a cinder track. Seating was again provided on primitive wooden bleachers. After the football team was restored in 1946 following the return of men from World War II, a drive started in the late 1940s to build a permanent grandstand around the existing field. Memorial Stadium opened in 1950 with seating for 7,000 fans, a new electronic scoreboard, permanent press box, and field lighting. It was expanded multiple times and by 1966 seated approximately 20,000 people. Most of Memorial Stadium was used in the construction of Dix Stadium as the Memorial Stadium seating areas were dismantled in 1969 and transported to the current site in a new configuration.
Despite the overall lack of success in the program, Kent State has produced a number of standouts including several prominent figures in college football, the Canadian Football League and in the National Football League.
- Lou Holtz, former head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and South Carolina Gamecocks
- Gary Pinkel, former head coach of the Missouri Tigers and Toledo Rockets
- Nick Saban, current head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide; former head coach of the LSU Tigers, Michigan State Spartans and Toledo Rockets (college), and Miami Dolphins (National Football League)
Canadian Football League
- Walter Bender, former CFL player
- Jim Corrigall, former Toronto Argonauts player and member of Canadian Football Hall of Fame
- Jim Goss, former Ottawa Rough Riders player
- Gerry Tuttle, former BC Lions player
- Jay McNeil, former Calgary Stampeders player
United Football League
- Shawn Bayes, Hartford Colonials
National Football League
40 Kent State alumni have either played in or are currently playing in the National Football League—although as noted below, not all of them played football at the school.
Eight former Kent State football players are currently on active NFL rosters, and two other current NFL players are Kent State alumni. In 2007, two former Flashes football players and a former Flashes basketball player were named to the Pro Bowl. Current NFL players from Kent State include:
- Former Golden Flashes football players
- Art Best, Chicago Bears, New York Giants
- Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts
- Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
- Abram Elam, Dallas Cowboys
- Josh Kline, New England Patriots
- James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals
- Daniel Muir, Indianapolis Colts
- Rico Murray, Cincinnati Bengals
- Jack Williams, Denver Broncos
- Usama Young, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders
- Jameson Konz, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos
- Monte Simmons, Philadelphia Eagles
- Ishmaa'ily Kitchen. Cleveland Browns
- Brian Winters, New York Jets
- Dri Archer, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Casey Pierce. Detroit Lions
- Jack Lambert, former Pittsburgh Steelers player and member of Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Don Nottingham, former player for Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Colts
- O.J. Santiago, former tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots
- Andy Harmon, Defensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles
- Pete Mikolajewski, former San Diego Chargers player
- Eric Wilkerson, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Other Kent State products in the NFL
- Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers — played basketball at KSU
- Jermail Porter, Kansas City Chiefs — an All-American wrestler at KSU
Kent State Golden Flashes retired numbers
| Josh Cribbs
| Eric Wilkerson
| Jim Corrigall
| Jack Lambert|
Future non-conference opponents
Announced schedules as of October 19, 2015
|at Penn State||at Clemson||at Illinois||at Arizona State||vs Kennesaw State|
|vs North Carolina A&T||vs Howard||vs Howard||at Georgia Southern|
|vs Monmouth||at Marshall||at Penn State||vs Kennesaw State|
|at Alabama||at Louisville||vs Georgia Southern|
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