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College football coach says goodbye after 45 years by calling a timeout and retiring during game

Denny Douds had coached at East Stroudsburg for 45 years. He ended it on his own terms during the final home game of the 2018 season.

Denny Douds ended a long tenure at East Stroudsburg University on his own terms.
Denny Douds ended a long tenure at East Stroudsburg University on his own terms.Read moreCourtesy / East Stroudsburg Athletics

Denny Douds had been coaching football at East Stroudsburg for a long time. He didn't want his retirement to be a distraction.

So he entered Saturday's game against Ohio Dominican with a plan.

In the fourth quarter of a 48-35 loss, Douds called a timeout with four seconds on the clock — even though he didn't have any left. He told the officials, "I know that is illegal, you're going to penalize it, but that's OK. I am retiring," according to WNEP. Then he gathered his players and broke the news.

They were caught off-guard, too.

"He is legendary in this program and around this area," Keanan Baines, a defensive tackle, told WNEP. "We are all sad about it, but the only thing we can do is move forward from here."

Douds abruptly left behind an incredible legacy: According to the East Stroudsburg athletics website, he was the active leader in career wins in the NCAA with 264, and in games coached with 471. He's 16th in all-time, all-division career wins.

How did Douds amass such impressive numbers? It comes a little easier when you've spent 45 years as head coach of the same program. The western Pennsylvania native took over the program in 1974, and had been at the school since 1965.

Douds holds the Division II record for most games coached (he reached that mark in 2011) and took the Warriors to the postseason four times, the most recent coming in 2009.

Even though Douds made an impressive departure, he's not leaving the Northeast Pa. school anytime soon — he'll still have a role in the athletic department, and he'll continue to teach sport management courses.

Taking over for Douds will be one of his former players, Jimmy Terwilliger. Terwilliger was the 2005 Division II player of the year as a quarterback for Douds.

But perhaps Douds' most famous former quarterback is Penn State head coach James Franklin, who spoke at length about his college coach on Tuesday.

"Denny really served a lot of roles for me," said Franklin. "Denny was a father figure in a lot of ways for me. For a good portion of my life I didn't really have that role in my life, so Denny kind of filled a lot of those gaps for me."

Franklin said he lived with Douds and his wife, Judy, after his playing career ended. They would share Klondike bars on the porch and talk after practice.

"I would ask him a thousand questions as a young ball coach trying to figure some things out, where I wanted to go with all this."

The Penn State head coach, who played for Douds in the early 90s, looks at his mentor as a model for others.

"I think it's just a great example why sports are looked at the way they're looked at in our country," he said. "Coaches have a huge impact. Coaches and high school teachers and elementary school teachers have such a huge impact on young people in our communities and complement what's being taught and learned in the classroom and setting kids up for success later in life with great life lessons."

Franklin said he plans to reach out to his former coach, saying he understands how hard it is to leave a job like that.

"When you walk away, it's hard," Franklin said. "I think we have all seen that. We've seen that here at Penn State. We've seen that nationally. It's hard at the end."