Yesterday afternoon, in the last few weeks of spring quarter, with summer fast approaching and the fall season still far from most students’ minds, Chicago football reached the end of an era. Head coach Dick Maloney announced his retirement after nearly 20 years in charge of the Maroons, effective June 30.
Not only is the University of Chicago losing its longtime football coach, it’s also losing a caring man and father figure.
“Coach Maloney is a terrific coach and an even better man,” fourth-year punter Jeff Sauer said. “He was a key factor in my decision to come play football at the University of Chicago.”
Maloney began his coaching career in 1974 as the defensive line coach at the University at Albany in New York. After coaching at several schools, Maloney moved on to the Canadian Football League, serving as the offensive line coach for the Ottawa Rough Riders from 1991–1993.
In 1994, Maloney made his way to the Windy City, beginning his first and only head-coaching job at the University of Chicago. With him, Maloney carried a mind for the game.
“With his experience, he brought a lot of knowledge,” third-year linebacker Brian Duffy said. “I can’t say there’s a situation on the field that he hasn’t seen. There wasn’t any situation he couldn’t handle.”
“His knowledge of the game is second to none and the enthusiasm he brought to the team day in and day out has been vital to the team’s past success. He is going to be extremely difficult to replace,” Sauer said.
Maloney concludes his 19-year tenure at Chicago with a 94–82 record and .534 winning percentage, second all-time to Amos Alonzo Stagg, who coached at Chicago from 1892–1932 during the Maroons’ days in the Big Ten Conference.
From 1997–2001, Maloney’s Maroons finished with a winning record each season, the only time that had happened since Stagg’s days (1911–1915).
Maloney’s résumé includes an impressive five UAA Coach of the Year awards, eight All-Americans, six UAA Offensive Players of the Year, three UAA Defensive Players of the Year, and seven UAA Rookies of the Year.
In his first year, fourth-year receiver Dee Brizzolara was one of those UAA Rookies of the Year.
“[Maloney’s] legacy here was that he was the football coach of the modern era for Chicago,” Brizzolara said. “He’s been a great coach and helpful resource for us football players off the gridiron.”
Since 1969, Maloney is the only Chicago coach to stay longer than seven years, and he made his mark over a whopping 19 years, sitting atop the leaderboard for winning percentage and number of victories over that period.
“He’s a player’s coach in every sense of the term in that he is always interested in what is going on in his players’ lives on and off the field,” Sauer said.
Brizzolara and Sauer aren’t exaggerating, either. Maloney really did affect his players’ lives in beneficial ways.
“I often met with him on a weekly basis,” Duffy said. “He even helped me find my job for the summer, connecting me with a network of alumni. He gave me incredible contacts and allowed me to meet people and figure out what I want to do. Those were awesome opportunities.”
Maloney touched the lives of many players, and according to the coach himself, they’re what make the job most rewarding.
“I’ll definitely miss the relationships,” Maloney said. “Those with players, coaches, [and] the administration. When you play or coach at the college level, you spend a lot of time together. We travel together, spend the night together, [and] eat together. We share joy and sadness together—it’s like being a family. That’s what I’m going to miss most.”
When asked about what comes next for Maloney, he hinted at coaching again someday.
“[I’ll] take time to relax and see what’s out there, maybe coach, teach, be an administrator, or just play golf every day. I might even travel a little bit this summer,” he said. “Mostly, it will be time to relax and reflect.”
Maloney’s retirement will be effective beginning June 30, but the search for his replacement is set to commence in the coming weeks.
“I don’t know what his future plans are. I haven’t spoken with him yet,” Sauer said. “It’s hard to imagine him being done coaching, though. He has too much enthusiasm and too much passion for me to think he’s truly done.”