After 45 seasons, college football coach calls timeout, tells his team he's retiring and walks off the field

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Denny Douds (C) celebrates with East Stroudsburg players. Douds retired during his team’s game Saturday. (via East Stroudsburg Athletics)
Denny Douds (C) celebrates with East Stroudsburg players. Douds retired during his team’s game Saturday. (via East Stroudsburg Athletics)

Denny Douds went out on his own terms.

Douds, the head coach at East Stroudsburg University for the last 45 seasons, entered Saturday as the active NCAA leader in career wins. And by the time the day ended, Douds was retired.

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It wasn’t any ordinary retirement, either.

With his team’s game against Ohio Dominican ticking down to the final seconds, Douds called a timeout. It was the team’s fourth, which should have drawn a penalty. But he explained to the nearby official that he was about to gather his team and announce his retirement. For real.

(Watch full video of the end of the game here.)

With time still on the clock, Douds walked out onto the field, shook a few hands and walked off the field at Eiler-Martin Stadium for the final time. How about that?

On Monday, Douds explained his thought process to WNEP:

“I nudged the official in front of me and I said, ‘Sir, we are going to call a fourth timeout. I know that is illegal, you’re going to penalize it, but that’s OK. I am retiring.’ I called timeout with four seconds to go, blew the whistle, the kids came in and I told them this is what we are doing,” Douds said.

Douds had planned to retire all along, but didn’t make it public.

Douds says he didn’t want his plan to retire to become a distraction, so he waited until the last second, with another plan in place.

“I told my wife when I leave the stadium, I am going to tip my hat and say, ‘I love ya.’ I tipped my hat, walked to the car, and smiled all the way home,” said Douds.

Saturday’s game concluded Douds’ 53 seasons at ESU, a Division II program in Pennsylvania.

Douds’ 264 wins ranks No. 16 all-time in NCAA history (in all divisions). His 471 games coached is the seventh-most of all time. Under his watch, ESU won nine Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships and led ESU to four NCAA Division II postseason appearances (1991, 2004, 2005, 2009). The Warriors advanced to the semifinals in 2005.

According to the school, Douds will transition into a role in the athletic department and continue as a professor of sport management. Meanwhile, the Warriors, who dropped to 1-8 on the season on Saturday, will play out their final two road games under associate head coach Jimmy Terwilliger, who was the quarterback for Douds’ 2005 team.

Another quarterback who played under Douds was Penn State head coach James Franklin. Franklin, who played at ESU from 1991 to 1994, expressed his gratitude on social media.

“So much more than a coach to me — been a major part of my life for almost 30 years,” Franklin wrote. “For a kid who grew up largely without a father figure, Coach Douds filled that role as well as a mentor and a friend! Love you coach and appreciate you more than I can ever express! We all understand the importance of wins in this business, but I hope I can make the same type of impact you made on young people and on the community.

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