The dean of Ohio college football coaches, Carlin Carpenter now enters his 24th season at Bluffton College. In 2001 he won his 100th career game, which stands as the most in school history. He was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference co-coach-of-the-year following the 2000 season when he guided the Beavers to a 7-3 record, a national ranking and a share of the HCAC championship.
Carpenter led Bluffton into the Heartland Conference in 1998 and has fashioned a 17-9 HCAC record over the last three seasons, which is the second best record of current HCAC members. Carpenter and his coaching staff have their eyes set on another HCAC title and what could be their first ever trip to the NCAA Division III national playoffs.
Since his arrival at Bluffton in 1979, Carpenter has guided some of BC's most prolific teams. From 1985 through 1990 BC fashioned a 44-13 record and was nationally ranked each year. The Beavers entered the NAIA national playoffs in 1987 and 1988. His 1985 and 1988 squads are already in the BC Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bluffton coach Carpenter carries a clipboard and a tune
By ANDY RESNIK
Associated Press Writer
September 6, 2002
Bluffton football coach Carlin Carpenter knows more than Xs and Os. Also included in his playbook are Do, Re and Mi.
"This year we had an officials' meeting with the league and he was the entertainment," said Greg Pscodna, the coach at rival Defiance. "He got up and sang and got a standing ovation."
Carpenter, who also plays the guitar, has a favorite song: "A Five Pound Box of Cheese." He performed the novelty tune years ago at a coaches' convention in Dallas and won an all-expenses paid trip for two to Nashville, Tenn.
"I can be serious when I want to be, but life is too short to be serious all the time," Carpenter said.
Maybe there's something to that. No current Ohio college football coach has been at their school longer than Carpenter. Year 24 begins Saturday when the Beavers play at Marietta.
"It just means I'm old," the 64-year-old Carpenter said when asked about being the dean of his profession in Ohio.
"Probably the only thing it means is we've got a good administration because they probably could have fired me a few times. The first few years, it was very lean. We were 0-9 and 1-8 a few times."
Things are much better now. The Beavers won a share of the Heartland Conference title in 2000 and ended last season by spoiling Defiance's bid to go undefeated in league play.
Most of Carpenter's top players return this season including tailback Jovan Johnson, who rushed for 1,096 yards over the final eight games last year and earned first-team All-Heartland Conference honors.
Though excited about the chance at having a successful season, Carpenter said he's not driven by winning.
"As I get older, I try to put things in perspective," said Carpenter, also an avid fisherman. "We like to win, but it's not the end of the world if you lose."
So the coach who has a 100-118-1 career record has made some changes in recent years. He only meets with assistant coaches on Monday and Tuesday nights so the members of his staff can spend more time with their families.
Carpenter didn't like being away from his wife Sharon and daughters Kelly and Jill during his six years as an assistant coach at Ohio and four more with Marshall before coming to Division III Bluffton in 1979.
"I've slept in the office before. That's dumb," said Carpenter, who also is Bluffton's athletic director and an assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation.
Sometimes, it even seems like Carpenter is more interested in what's going on at Defiance, Pscodna said. Carpenter graduated from Defiance in 1964 and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1988.
"As an alum he says, 'You better win or I'll get you fired,'" said Pscodna, starting his seventh year in charge of the Yellow Jackets.
Stability has reigned with the Bluffton football program since Carpenter took over. Not only has Carpenter spent parts of four decades at the school, there has been little turnover with his staff. Offensive coordinator Greg Brooks has been with Carpenter since the coach's second season.
What could be his greatest accomplishment is about 60 of Carpenter's former players are coaching at some level including Mike Kelly, an offensive assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"You never know what kind of influence you're going to have on a person," Carpenter said.
Carpenter wins #100 as Beavers upset Defiance 21-16
November 10, 2001
Bluffton College head football coach Carlin Carpenter achieved yet another milestone Saturday as he won his 100th career game at the helm of the Beaver football program.
In his 23rd season at Bluffton, Carpenter is already BC's career wins leader, as he established that record in the first game of the 2000 season with his 89th career win.
His head coaching tenure is the longest among Ohio's collegiate head football coaches.
Carpenter continues teaching high ideals
By Tim Stried, SID
July 13, 2002
After 23 years and a school-record 100 victories, perhaps you might be surprised that Bluffton College head football coach Carlin Carpenter doesn't list a few of those wins among his proudest accomplishments. That list, he'll tell you, is reserved for the success stories of his players who are now winners in their communities.
Few occupations can have the influence on young people like that of a coach, and as Carpenter reflected on his former players, one thing stands out that he hopes each took with them when they left Bluffton-The Beaver Code of Conduct.
"There are three behavior patterns that we try to instill in all of the players, support personnel, and coaches," said Carpenter. "Do what is right, do your very best, and treat others like you want to be treated. This is our Beaver Code of Conduct and all behavior falls in one of these categories. Regardless of where you are or what you do, these guidelines are the blueprint for success."
And that blueprint has helped produce police officers, businessmen, doctors, parks and recreation directors and social workers, just to name a few, as well as a handful of men who are now coaches themselves.
Carpenter, who is the longest active head coach at the same college in Ohio, introduced the Beaver Pledge at BC when he arrived in 1979 as a tool that he hopes all his former players will continue to use in their daily lives.
"I hope all of them [coaches] will teach and practice our Beaver Pledge, because in it lies their road to coaching success," said Carpenter, who has over 60 former players who are coaching at some level. "It simply states: I believe in God, myself, Bluffton College, team, and program. I believe in setting attainable goals and working with the dedication needed to achieve these goals. I believe in the ability to adjust to and overcome adverse situations. I believe!"
Carpenter can rest assured that his players got the message.
"The Beaver Pledge, that statement in itself is what I try to live by," said Chris Dales, a 1991 BC graduate who is now an assistant principal and assistant football coach at Defiance High School in Defiance, Ohio. "If you treat people right, they'll respect you no matter win or lose. We said that day in and day out and it has really stuck with me. I'm a principal for 1000 kids, but I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for football at Bluffton College and Carlin Carpenter.
"I'll always remember The Beaver Pledge and the Beaver Code of Contact," said Todd Kirkton, a 1994 grad who recently accepted the position of executive director of Camp Friedenswald after a successful tenure as an assistant football coach at Concord High School in Elkhart, Ind. "One of the things that I really appreciated about Carlin and the staff is that they were always checking out what we were doing outside of football. As a high school coach that's really important, because kids these days really have to sort out their priorities. That's where football is a great experience to help prepare young men for life."
"Playing at Bluffton pushed me in the direction of wanting to be a coach," said Chris Etzler, a 1993 grad who recently was named the head football coach at Elida High School in Elida, Ohio, after nine years at Wayne Trace High School, the last four of which he was the head football coach. "Carlin never let us get bogged down in a routine. He would always get us into something new, and Carlin had an uncanny sense of knowing when was the right time to do that. His personal touch made it enjoyable."
"Football is a violent game and I'm hard on the kids, but you need that balance, and I learned that from Carlin," said Rock Farlow, a 1984 grad who has guided Sandusky Perkins High School to one state championship and three playoff appearances. "It's very important to have a good relationship with your players to show that you're concerned about more than just how they perform as football players."
Carlin left an impact even on those players that he wasn't able to spend all four years with.
"One of my biggest regrets is that I only played one season for Carlin," said Mike Kelly, who is now an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in the National Football League. Kelly, who graduated in 1980, spent his senior season under the direction of Carpenter, who was in his first year as a head coach at the time. "He demonstrated an amazing work ethic that has left the biggest impression on me. When he arrived he mandated 6 a.m. workouts, five days a week, from January to May. I've tried to emulate that philosophy and his work ethic at every place I've been."
Coaches aren't the only role models working to improve our communities. 1991 grad Andy Nowlin, who is Director of Recruitment and Personnel Services for Starr Commonwealth in Columbus, implements ideals that Carlin taught. "The compassion and caring he had for his players was genuine, and whenever I come back to campus it's been the same thing. I carry that over into my work now dealing with at-risk kids."
Teaching and coaching football at Bluffton College have defined Carlin Carpenter, just as Carlin has helped define student-athletes there since 1979.
"Carlin and his coaching staff were true and genuine," said Dales. "Note only did they teach you about football, they taught you about life. Carlin Carpenter got me to Bluffton and it was the greatest choice I've ever made."
"Carlin lives and breathes Bluffton College," said Kirkton, "and he extended that philosophy into his players. I would recommend Bluffton to any of my players."
"Bluffton is a small school and we weren't paid to play, but at the same time that made it special because were out there because we loved the game," said Etzler. "And we had a head coach and a coaching staff that loved the game, too, and the fact that Carlin and most of his coaches are all still at Bluffton is a testimony to their love of the game and the school and each other."
"Carlin was all about making Bluffton a better place for the people in the program," said Kelly. "That made a huge impression on me and I've carried that with me."
"Respecting other people is one thing that Carlin really tried to instill," said Nowlin. "Whether it was our opponent or our teammates or other students around campus, respect was something he really pushed. We knew we had to treat people right."
So as another season is set to begin, the business of winning football games again takes a high priority for Carlin Carpenter, but never will it be his sole motivation.
"The most rewarding experience has been the relationships I've built with the players, support personnel and coaches that have been in our program," said Carpenter. "I am honored and humbled that they have allowed me to be a part of their lives. There is no way that I can ever repay them for what they have given me. It is priceless, and I am a better person for having known them."
And it's quite clear that they feel the same way about Carlin Carpenter.