The room is stocked with memories. Footballs and photos and newspaper clippings are part of the collection that is Bill Mallory’s coaching career.
He looks around his office and smiles. Regrets? How could he regret any of this?
“Naturally, I’d like to have won a few more games, but that goes with coaching,” Mallory said with a chuckle. “I was very fortunate to be at good places with good young men and good coaches. You win with people, and I was always surrounded by a lot of good people.”
He was a collegiate head coach for 27 seasons. He won 168 games, lost 129 and tied four. He’s in multiple halls of fame and will join another one, the Mid-American Conference version, on May 30. It will be his 78th birthday.
Mallory is most well-known for the 13 years he spent becoming Indiana University’s all-time winningest coach, but his first head coaching job was at Miami University, his alma mater. He was also the head man at Northern Illinois for four seasons.
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So when Mallory is honored by the MAC at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel, it will be no small thing.
“I’ve always had a great passion for the MAC,” he said. “It’s certainly a nice honor and something I appreciate and cherish.”
This is his life now. Retired and living with his wife Ellie in a wooded area on the outskirts of Bloomington, Mallory is still a football guy at his core.
His three sons coach at the professional and collegiate levels, and he often reviews videos to keep up on their teams. He’s in Florida from January through April and regularly attends football gatherings of all kinds. He gets back to Oxford on occasion and saw the RedHawks play Massachusetts last season.
Mallory looks back on his times at Miami with great pride. His two head coaches in Oxford were a couple guys named Ara Parseghian and John Pont.
Becoming a Redskin
It was clearly a different era when Bill Mallory came to MU to play football and get an education. It all started with his Sandusky High School coach, Jeff DeHaven, who had attended Miami and thought it would be a good fit for Mallory.
He traveled to Oxford in the spring of 1953 while still in high school and tried out. That’s correct — he tried out for a scholarship. Such was the practice in those days. Several dozen players worked out for the Miami coaches before the spring game.
Parseghian liked what he saw from Mallory, a two-way end. The coach pulled him aside and told him he wanted to talk to him about a scholarship. It wasn’t a complicated process.
“Today you’re signing all these agreements and so forth,” Mallory said. “Back then, it was based on word. But that was Ara. He was as straight as you’d want to be.
“My dad and I went over and met with Ara. I’ve always remembered this, and my dad would always bring this up. Ara would say at the end, after he talked, ‘You send me a boy. In four years, I’ll return you a man.’ That was particularly meaningful.”
Mallory played for the freshman team (frosh weren’t eligible to play varsity) and then lettered for three years. He contributed to a 24-2-1 record while on the varsity. He was first-team All-MAC and a captain as a senior.
“I think it was my sophomore year when I led the receiving corps with 15 catches,” Mallory said. “We didn’t throw much. I liked offense, but I have to say I really loved defense.
“Back then, you went both ways. You played 60 minutes and didn’t come out much. You had to be in shape for sure. Of course, back then, we weren’t that big. You really couldn’t be playing both ways.”
Parseghian left for Northwestern after Mallory’s junior season. Pont, who coached Mallory on the freshman squad, then took over as head coach.
“Those four years were a good time in my life,” Mallory said. “John and Ara were great mentors for me. They were excellent teachers and very caring people about their players. They had a lot of important traits that I tried to take with me when I had the opportunity to be a coach.
“Ara was very demanding. We had an awful lot of meetings. He lectured to you, and you had coaches standing over you to make sure you were taking notes on everybody. I kept those notebooks and had them all together. They were great referral to me when I went into coaching.”
He still sees Parseghian, who will turn 90 on May 21, in Florida. “He’s still sharp as a tack,” Mallory said.
Becoming a coach
The coaching bug bit Mallory at an early age. His father Guy was a basketball coach — “He didn’t know whether a football was pumped or stuffed,” Mallory said — and his son liked watching him operate.
It was Guy Mallory who suggested that getting a master’s degree and being a graduate assistant coach was the way to go after leaving Miami.
“My dad was a man of good common sense, and I really listened to him,” Mallory said.
He called Doyt Perry at Bowling Green and eventually landed a GA position for the 1957 season. Falcon coaches like Perry, Bob Gibson, Jim Young and Bill Gunlock proved to be great influences on Mallory, who would be the head coach at East Palestine High School for a season before returning for six years as a BGSU assistant.
From there, Mallory went to Yale for a season and coached under Carmen Cozza. Mallory was out recruiting one day when his wife informed him that Ohio State coach Woody Hayes was trying to reach him.
“Carm wasn’t a real happy camper, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Mallory said of coaching at OSU, where he would spend three seasons and enjoy a national championship in 1968.
Anyone who’s coached with the mercurial Hayes has stories to tell, and Mallory is no different. Longtime Buckeyes assistant Lyal Clark filled him in on Hayes right away.
“He said, ‘This man, 90 percent of him is as good as you’ll find anywhere. The other 10 percent, he can be a pure-bred jackass.’ And he said oftentimes that 10 percent might overshadow the 90,” Mallory said. “It was great advice. There was so much good in Woody, but he could fire up, and that’s unfortunately what got him at the end.
“You went 24/7 with Woody. The man just lived there. If I ever needed advice, he would give it to me. If I had clinics, he’d always come. That’s the way he was.”
Mallory was ready to be a head coach, and the Miami job came open when Bo Schembechler left MU to go to Michigan. Athletic director Dick Shrider called, and Mallory was on his way back to Oxford.
Finally, a head coach
The 1969 season began Mallory’s five-year run as the Redskins’ head man. It was a good stretch, four 7-3 seasons followed by an 11-0 campaign. The last year ended with a 16-7 victory over Florida in the Tangerine Bowl.
“I’m not putting Bo down or anything, but the program was not at the top of the rank like maybe I thought when I got there,” Mallory said. “We were kind of in the middle of the pack. But we were able to come up.
“We had a great group of players that last year. A lot of them were young. Dick Shrider came to me and said, ‘We’ve got a chance to play in the Tangerine Bowl and play Florida. The only thing is, we’ve got to play them in Gainesville or they won’t play. Would you rather go somewhere else?’ I said, ‘No, you tell them we’re coming.’ We went down there with one thing in mind — to beat them.”
That 1973 team placed eight players on the All-MAC first team: Bill Blind, Mike Biehle, Brad Cousino, Dan Cunningham, Dave Draught, Herman Jackson, Mike Monos and Dan Rebsch. Bob Hitchens was the leading rusher. Steve Sanna was the quarterback.
During his Miami tenure, Mallory worked hard to foster character in his players. They would go to class. They would act like gentlemen.
“I really got into the etiquette side of it,” Mallory said. “The table manners, how they dressed, the way we dressed when we went to a game. I wanted them to give a good, firm handshake and look people in the eye. Don’t give me that goosenecking around. You express your thanks when people do something for you. You act with class.”
He still gets together with a large group of his former players every summer to support the Mallory Men football scholarship at Miami. He cherished his time in Oxford. But it wasn’t going to last forever.
Colorado came calling with an offer to coach in the Big Eight. His salary would be roughly tripled. He decided it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
And so he spent five seasons with the Buffaloes, taking them to two bowls. Mallory was eventually let go after a dispute with the administration and didn’t coach in 1979. He wanted to come back to the Midwest.
Enter Northern Illinois, which had recently joined the MAC. Mallory liked the farm-country setting that wasn’t real far from Chicago, and the Huskies wanted to upgrade their program. It was a perfect match.
“It reminded me a lot of Miami,” Mallory said. “It maybe wasn’t as pretty as Miami, but it was a good school academically. I loved being in the MAC.”
NIU was 25-19 in four seasons under Mallory. The Huskies won the California Bowl in 1983. Successful MAC coaches are targets for bigger schools, then and today. And Indiana, having lost Sam Wyche to the Cincinnati Bengals, was looking for a new coach.
So began a 13-year run for Mallory in Bloomington. Butting heads with the Ohio States and Michigans of the world was not easy for the Hoosiers, but they were 69-77-3 under Mallory and went to six bowls.
After a 3-8 campaign in 1996, IU president Myles Brand decided it was time for a change.
“He was the one that got (Indiana basketball coach) Bob (Knight) too,” Mallory said. “I have not carried any bitterness. I wasn’t going to let the negative overshadow the positive side of it. I always had great respect for Indiana. I always thought it was a bigger Miami.”
Mallory went to Germany for three months in 1998 and helped coach Hamburg in the European Football League (a former IU player, Chris Merritt, was the head coach). He later spent two years in the Indiana administration and was instrumental in the upgrading of the school’s athletic facilities.
Football was in his blood. It will be forever. But coaching had become a thing of his past.
Time to move on
“I think I missed it for a while,” Mallory said. “But I think as I got away and saw it was not going to be there anymore, it’s been kind of refreshing to follow my boys around.”
When he’s home in Bloomington, there are dinner and breakfast groups to enjoy. There’s golf to be played, reunions to contemplate. He participates in the Legends Poll, an alternative ranking system for college football that includes former coaches like Vince Dooley, Bobby Bowden and Frank Broyles.
Mallory said he’s content with where he’s at in life and the path he followed to get here.
“I had the good fortune to have a profession that I dearly loved,” Mallory said. “There’s nothing I would have rather done than to do what I did.”