Don Nehlen

Inducted 2003
Written by Shelly Poe

  Don Nehlen

Coach Don Nehlen, the winningest football coach in WVU history, served as Mountaineer coach from 1980-2000, posting a 149-93-4 record in Morgantown. One of the five winningest coaches in the nation at the time of his retirement, Nehlen's career record of 202-138-8 (including nine seasons as head coach at Bowling Green from 1968-76) made him one of only 17 coaches in NCAA history to record 200 wins.

Taking WVU to 13 bowls and 17 winning seasons, Nehlen coached 15 first team All-Americans, 82 all-conference players, six first team Academic All-Americans and 80 players who went on to professional football. He received coach of the year honors from Kodak, AFCA, Bobby Dodd Award, Walter Camp, Scripps-Howard, Playboy, Woody Hayes Award, Joseph Sheehan Award and was the unanimous choice as the 1993 BIG EAST coach of the year.

In 1997, Nehlen served as president of the 10,000-member American Football Coaches Association, the culmination of a career that saw him on the AFCA's Board of Trustees, chair of the College Football Association's coaches committee and a nominator for the College Footbal Hall of Fame. After quarterbacking Bowling Green to a MAC championship, Nehlen began his coaching career in 1958 at Mansfield (Ohio) High School. He served as head coach at Canton South and Canton McKinley Highs, and was an assistant coach at Cincinnati, Bowling Green and Michigan. His last game as a head coach was a 49-38 win over Ole Miss in the 2000 Music City Bowl.

A member of the Mid-American Conference, Bowling Green and Gator Bowl halls of fame, Nehlen has a bachelor's degree (1958) from Bowling Green and a master's (1966) from Kent State. A native of Canton, Ohio, he and his wife Merry Ann have two children - Dan and Vicky - and five grandchildren.