Woody Widenhofer
Biographical details
Born (1943-01-20) January 20, 1943 (age 77)
Butler, Pennsylvania
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Michigan State (DL)
Eastern Michigan (LB)
Minnesota (LB)
Pittsburgh Steelers (LB/DC)
Oklahoma Outlaws
Detroit Lions (DC)
Cleveland Browns (LB)
Vanderbilt (DC/HC)
SE Louisiana (DC)
New Mexico State (DC)
Alabama Blackbirds
Head coaching record
Overall27–71–1 (college)
College Football Data Warehouse

Robert "Woody" Widenhofer (born January 20, 1943) is a former college football head coach and longtime NFL assistant. He has been announced as the head coach of the Alabama Blackbirds of the United National Gridiron League, a new minor league that was scheduled to begin play in February 2009, but whose debut has been delayed indefinitely.

Widenhofer is best known for helping the Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain" defense that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. He later served unsuccessful tenures as head coach at Missouri and Vanderbilt University.

Widenhofer attended Riverview High School in Riverview, Michigan and played linebacker at Mizzou from 1961–1964 under coach Dan Devine. He went on to receive a master's degree at Michigan State University.

Coaching careerEdit

Widenhofer began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State where he coached the defensive line. Widenhofer then moved to Eastern Michigan and Minnesota where he served as linebackers coach. After several years as a college assistant, Widenhofer was hired to coach linebackers for the Steelers in 1973. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1979. By the time he left after the 1983 season, Widenhofer had won four Super Bowls and made the postseason nine times. Many experts believe Widenhofer's defense at Pittsburgh was the greatest in professional football history.

He spent one year as head coach of the short-lived United States Football League team, the Oklahoma Outlaws, before landing an opportunity at his alma mater, bolstered by a much-remembered ad campaign that urged Tigers fans to "climb on Woody's Wagon". While Widenhofer's team showed slow improvements, he only managed a 12–33–1 record in four seasons at Missouri from 1985 to 1988.

Widenhofer returned to the NFL for six years as an assistant coach, serving as defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions under head coach Wayne Fontes, followed by two years as linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns under head coach Bill Belichick. He then joined friend Rod Dowhower's staff at Vanderbilt to serve as defensive coordinator. When Dowhower was fired after the 1996 season, Widenhofer was promoted to head coach. In 1997, his Vanderbilt team led the SEC in total defense. However, his second tenure as head coach was no easier than the first, as Widenhofer compiled only a 15–37 record in five seasons at the helm for VU. Widenhofer resigned in 2001. While unsuccessful on the field, the NCAA announced that Vanderbilt led the nation in football graduation percentage with a perfect 100% the year he left.

Widenhofer considered retiring, but ultimately joined friend Hal Mumme as an assistant at Southeastern Louisiana University and later New Mexico State University. Widenhofer announced he was retiring from coaching following the season finale game against Fresno State on November 30, 2007.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Widenhofer has five children: Kim, Stacy, Ryan, Ross, Katlyn and a granddaughter Addison. After his recent retirement from football, Widenhofer now resides in Florida with his wife Sabrina.[2]

Head coaching recordEdit


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Missouri Tigers (Big 8 Conference) (1985–1988)
1985 Missouri 1–10 1–6 T–7th
1986 Missouri 3–8 2–5 6th
1987 Missouri 5–6 3–4 5th
1988 Missouri 3–7–1 2–5 6th
Missouri: 12–31–1 8–20
Vanderbilt Commodores (Southeastern Conference) (1997–2001)
1997 Vanderbilt 3–8 0–8 6th (East)
1998 Vanderbilt 2–9 1–7 5th (East)
1999 Vanderbilt 5–6 2–6 5th (East)
2000 Vanderbilt 3–8 1–7 5th (East)
2001 Vanderbilt 2–9 0–8 6th (East)
Vanderbilt: 15–40 4–36
Total: 27–71–1


External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Preceded by
George Perles
Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Tony Dungy
Preceded by
Detroit Lions Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Herb Paterra
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