Sports Outside the Beltway

Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry Retires

Fisher DeBerry has retired after 27 years coaching Air Force Academy football.

Longtime Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry announced his retirement Friday after 27 years with the Falcons, the last 23 as head coach. He guided the Falcons to three conference championships but his tenure ended with three consecutive losing seasons, the first such skid in his tenure at the school.

In a prepared statement, the 68-year-old DeBerry called his resignation “the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life.” “There comes a time in every man’s life when you have to look at the big picture and decide what’s the best thing for your family,” he said. “After 27 exciting and wonderful years here at the academy and a total of 44 years of coaching, I am announcing my retirement from active coaching.”

DeBerry, whose 169-107-1 record made him the winningest coach in Air Force history, was 35-11 against Army and Navy. He led the Falcons to 14 Commander-in-Chief’s trophies awarded to the winner of the annual service academy rivalry. However, Navy has won the last four trophies.

DeBerry has also had problems off the field in recent years. In 2005, he was criticized by some after a 48-10 loss to TCU when he said Air Force didn’t have enough “Afro-American” players, who he singled out for being able to run well. DeBerry was reprimanded by top brass at the academy and offered a public apology.

In 2004, academy officials asked him to remove a banner from the locker room that included the lines “I am a Christian first and last … I am a member of Team Jesus Christ.” The academy was dealing with allegations of religious intolerance at the time.

Despite this lack of adaptation to our politically correct times, DeBerry was an outstanding coach and role model for a generation of Air Force Academy cadets. He will be missed.

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