University of Dayton football great Rick Chamberlin led the Flyers to a historic 2015 season that saw his team make its first appearance in the NCAA FCS playoffs and win its 12th Pioneer Football League Championship. Reaching the playoffs was impressive in and of itself, but the path taken makes it even more so.
UD had to make a quarterback switch in the season opener and lost the school’s all-time leading rusher, Connor Kacsor midway through the year. Despite that, and a slew of injuries in the secondary, UD won the PFL, reached the playoffs and earned the 32nd-most votes in the final STATS FCS poll.
For his efforts, Chamberlin was named the 2015 AFCA District Coach of the Year and the PFL Coach of the Year. He was the school’s first AFCA District Coach of the Year, and his PFL honor was the ninth for a Dayton coach.
Chamberlin is in his fifth decade in the Flyer football program. He is in his 42nd season at UD as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and has been a part of more of the University of Dayton’s success on the football field than any other person. Heading into the 2016 season, Chamberlin has been involved in 359 of UD’s 659 wins – 26 as a player, 268 as an assistant coach, and 65 as a head coach. He has also been a part of 462 of UD’s 1,047 games.
After a debut season that left UD just six points away from the 2008 Pioneer Football League Championship, Dayton won a share of the next two PFL titles, tying Butler for first place in 2009 and Jacksonville in 2010. In addition, the Flyers finished ranked 25th in both the AFCA and Sports Network polls in 2010, marking the first time in school history UD was nationally ranked in a Division I poll.
He earned his first PFL Coach of the Year Award in 2010.
Chamberlin is 65-25 in his first eight seasons as the Flyer head coach.
Academically, the University of Dayton football program has also reached new heights. In 2008, a UD-record four Flyer football players were named Academic All-Americans. In 2009, defensive end Brandon Wingeier repeated as a first team selection. In 2010, UD had two first team members, with Wingeier becoming the first UD student-athlete to be named a First Team Academic All-American in three different seasons. In the last six years, Dayton also has had 32 academic all-district selections.
Chamberlin was named the Dayton head football coach on January 23, 2008 in a press conference held at the University of Dayton Arena. A 1980 UD graduate and a member of the University's Athletic Hall of Fame, he succeeded College Football Hall of Famer Mike Kelly, who announced one day earlier that he was stepping down.
Chamberlin is the 23rd head football coach since the program began in 1905. He is the first of the 11 modern era coaches to have lettered for the Flyers, and the second to be a graduate of the University of Dayton (Pete Ankney was the first when he coached in 1963 and 1964).
Chamberlin, 58, had been on the Flyer coaching staff for 28 seasons before being named head coach. First as linebackers coach and then as defensive coordinator, Chamberlin helped mold the Dayton D's reputation for its preparation and execution as a unit. Under Chamberlin's guidance as an assistant and now as a head coach, the Flyers have led the Pioneer Football League in scoring defense in nine of the last 12 seasons, including finishing second in NCAA Division I-AA (9.8) in 2002.
In 2004, Dayton led NCAA Division I-AA football in total defense (263.10). In 2009, the Flyers were first in pass efficiency defense (96.71). The Flyers have also demonstrated great discipline in the seven years since Chamberlin was named head coach, finishing the 2009, 2011 and 2012 seasons as the least penalized team in the PFL.
One of the hallmarks of the Dayton defense in the last four decades has been great play at linebacker. Not only has Chamberlin nurtured that as a coach, but he was one of the players who started that tradition in the late 1970's. A four-year letterwinner (1975-78) for the Flyers, Chamberlin was named to the Football Coaches Association Small College All-America team. He was the third Dayton player to be named a First Team All-American, and was the first defensive player.
A native of Springfield, Ohio and a 1975 graduate of Springfield North High School, Chamberlin was a three-time all-city selection and Springfield Player of the Year as a senior. In four years at Dayton, he was credited with 385 tackles and led the team as a junior (115) and senior (121). He was the first two-time winner of the Chief Toscani Hitter Award and a member of UD's first NCAA Division III Playoff team in 1978.
He was inducted into the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. "He is the real story," said Chamberlin's coach, Mike Kelly. "Here's a guy who went to college to play football, became a graduate assistant, an assistant coach, then a very successful defensive coordinator and now a head coach - all at the same institution. He understands the tradition of the Dayton football program, and the culture. Rick is a player's coach. They love to play for him."
Chamberlin is a 1980 UD graduate with a degree in health and physical education. He earned his master's degree in counselor education at UD in 1982. Rick and his wife Jayne live in Kettering. They have two sons, Jason and Tyler, who both graduated from UD.