Football Reunions a Big Success as Delaware Honors 1963 and 2003 Blue Hen National Champions
NEWARK, Del. -- This football season has been a nostalgic one at the University of Delaware as the Blue Hens welcomed back members of the 1963 and 2003 national championship teams who gathered on campus over the last month to celebrate milestone reunions.
Over 100 former Blue Hens football players and coaching staff members returned to campus earlier this fall as Delaware celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 2003 NCAA Division I-AA national championship season on Sept. 28 and the 50th anniversary of the undefeated 1963 team that captured the United Press International Small College Wire Service national championship as part of Homecoming festivities on Oct. 12.
Members of both teams returned and took part in the pre-game “Blue Hen Walk” down Stadium Drive with the current Blue Hen team, enjoyed a pre-game reception in the Bob Carpenter Center, and were recognized on the field at halftime of the football game.
Both reunions included a feature story in that day’s official gameday program as well as a video feature on the video board at Delaware Stadium. In addition, players from both team had their photos taken with the national championship trophy from that season. In addition, several local media outlets were there to interview the returning players for feature stories that ran the following day.
The current Blue Hens were victorious on both days as well as Delaware upended Colonial Athletic Association rival James Madison 29-22 on Sept. 28 and downed CAA foe Albany 33-30 on a last second field goal on Oct. 12.
A total of 55 players and eight staff members from the 2003 team returned for the celebration, including Kyle Flood and Dave Cohen, who were assistant coaches on then head coach K.C. Keeler’s staff that year when the Hens went 15-1 and stormed through the I-AA playoffs, downing Colgate 40-0 in the title game in Chattanooga, Tenn. Flood is currently the head coach at Rutgers and Cohen is one of his assistant.
A total of 37 former players (out of the 55-player roster) and five coaches returned from the 1963 team that went 8-0, captured the Middle Atlantic Conference title, and was named Lambert Cup champions as the top team in the East. In addition, coaches Irv Wisniewski, Tubby Raymond, Ted Kempski, Jimmy Flynn, and Paul Billy were in attendance as was Shirley Nelson, wife of the late Dave Nelson who served as head coach of the squad.
What They Said:
Mike Brown (Delaware ‘64): "It's a great honor to be acknowledged and to have our performance acknowledged. It makes me feel very good to come back and see the guys that I played with and reminisce and hear all the old stories.”
John Wallace (Delaware ‘64) -- "Hard to explain, but it doesn't feel like 50 years. All the guys look great. It's hard to believe that 50 years ago we were all on the gridiron. We have all done our own things after graduation and we love to come back to the University. This is a good day to talk about some good times and experiences that we had."
Jason Nerys (Delaware ‘04) - "It was an amazing experience and to be back here and celebrate that, I have to thank the University for doing this. It's amazing and good to be back. Delaware football has such a rich tradition, that's why all of us came here. Our fan base is the best in the world. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get goosebumps seeing the fans and reliving this moment."