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Celebrating the life of Coach Raymond

Photos by Mark Campbell

UD Football family gathers to celebrate the life of Tubby Raymond

Tubby Raymond reached unparalleled success during a 36-year career as head coach of the University of Delaware. His Hall of Fame tenure featured 300 victories, three national championships, and coaching honors too numerous to count.

But it was his impact on thousands of young people and the special part he played in shaping their lives, his loyalty to the University and the stability he brought to one of the nation’s most successful college football programs that resounded on Friday afternoon, Jan. 12, at the Bob Carpenter Center.

A gathering in excess of 1,000 -- a group that included former players, coaches, fans and friends of Delaware football -- assembled to pay tribute and celebrate the life of a man whose name was synonymous with the University of Delaware and college football success.

Coach Raymond, whose career spanned nearly 50 years at Delaware, including serving as assistant football coach (1954-65), head baseball coach (1956-64), and head football coach (1966-2001), passed away on Dec. 8 at the age of 92.

He led the Blue Hens to an impressive 36-year record of 300-119-3, three national titles, 16 NCAA playoff appearances, 14 Lambert Cup trophies, nine ECAC Team of the Year awards, and nine conference titles. He also coached numerous All-Americans and NFL players.

Raymond was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003 and was also a member of the University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame (2002), the state of Delaware Sports Hall of Fame (1993), the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Hall of Fame (2017) and the Flint, Michigan Hall of Fame (1983).

The Celebration of the Life event brought together current and former National League Football players and second-stringers, coaches past and present, season tickets holders and fan.

University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis welcomed the crowd and thanked Coach Raymond for his “passion for this University and this community and the indelible mark he left on so many.”

Other speakers included a host of dignitaries, highlighted by former U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who gave a poignant speech.

“I’m honored to be referred to as one of Tubby’s players,” said Biden, who played for the 1961 Delaware freshman football team. “He had high standards and it was all about integrity. Tubby cast a very long shadow and players and coaches and staff members knew what was expected of them. He taught us how to prepare, how to be the best you can be, and how to be the best teammate you can be. He changed the lives of hundreds for the better. He was a good man.”

In addition to Biden, state dignitaries in attendance were Delaware Gov. John Carney, former Delaware Govs. Mike Castle, Jack Markell, and Tom Carper, former University of Delaware President David Roselle and current Wilmington, Delaware, Mayor Mike Purzycki. Purzycki was a standout player under Raymond in 1964-66.

Among the other speakers at the event were former Delaware All-American, longtime veteran All-Pro NFL quarterback and current CBS analyst Rich Gannon, as well as Coach Raymond’s sons Chris and David.

Several videos chronicling Coach Raymond’s remarkable life and career with comments from former players were shown, and the UD Marching Band performed the UD Fight Song and alma mater. Camille Peruto performed one of Coach Raymond’s favorite songs, "Turn, Turn, Turn" by The Byrds.

“He meant something to everybody,” said Gannon. “He had a different relationship with the quarterbacks and I experienced that. As a young 19-year-old student-athletes, to have someone who always knew what to say at the right time. It could be tough or demanding, or it could have been encouraging and supportive. I learned a lot of lessons that I have carried with me ever since. I would not have played 17 years in the league without the experience I had at Delaware and without Coach Raymond mentoring me, encouraging me and really developing me. He created something unique and special at Delaware and his commitment to the University and the state were second to none.

“You come back to event like this and you really feel the brotherhood,” said Gannon. “I don’t know if there are a lot of universities that are like this. For so many years Coach Raymond was able to evolve with different players, teams, and schemes. He knew how to develop a football team and his attention to detail really made him the Hall of Famer that he was.”

"It is a special day," said Bill Vergantino, Raymond's only four-year starting quarterback and co-captain of the 1992 team. "This is an opportunity for everyone to reflect upon what has been so important in our lives and the impact that Coach Raymond had. He never let you forget the tradition here. I am big on stability and that is what sold me on Delaware. You look at Coach Raymond and realize that he had so many chances to move up to a bigger program but he appreciated what he had here. He gave consistency to this program and I believe that is what makes any team successful, whether it is sports or otherwise. It's incredible the commitment he made to this program and that is where the success comes from. He is a legend."

"Football is life, you win some, you lose some," said Dorrell Green, an All-American safety and 1997 team captain. "You learn about resilience and you learn about preparation. Coach Raymond and everyone who fell under his leadership taught us that. Coach Raymond had an uncanny way of knowing everything about everybody without keeping a thumb on us. We had a lot of free reign to grow up and be our own men. But he held us accountable and taught us how to be leaders. I have a lot of pride in being a Blue Hen and that comes from the legacy that he leaves. We had the opportunity to learn from him, grow under him, and to ultimately play for him. The life lessons he taught and the attention to detail were incredible."

David Raymond, who was a punter on Blue Hens teams for his father in 1975-77 and went on to earn national fame as the Phillie Phanatic, closed the event with a moving address.

"We shared our dad with Delaware football," Raymond said. "He was the living, breathing, embodiment of this University. He loved this place and he will always be here. We are forever Blue Hens."

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