Joe Fincham, head coach of Wittenberg Football, is one win away from being the 86th NCAA football coach to reach 200 wins.
After counting win 199 on Oct. 28’s 21-14 victory at Wabash, Fincham will reach the magic number with a win over Ohio Wesleyan this Saturday.
“[I’ll] celebrate by going home and worrying about how not to lose the next one,” Fincham said.
Two hundred wins is not an easy feat, as Fincham could be the 26th Division III coach to do so, 17 of which retired at, or are still at, the school they achieved that mark.
Zack Jenkins, former Wittenberg quarterback and now coach, has spent the last six years with Fincham and has seen first-hand that he isn’t big into celebrating.
“He is a very humble guy,” Jenkins said. “After the game, he will probably tell the guys what they did wrong. Then probably go home and look at what needs to be fixed for the next game. His wife might remind him of his accomplishment but that might be it. Who knows, he might surprise us.”
The 2016 graduate was hired onto Fincham’s staff for that upcoming fall season. Between his four years of undergrad and another two as a coach, Jenkins has seen 54 Tiger wins under Coach Fincham.
Fincham, a firm believer in superstition, did not want to jinx himself by answering too many questions for this article.
“Not sure how many [wins] I still have to go but I’m pretty sure I’m not there yet,” Fincham said. “Don’t want to go ‘O’ for the end of the season and look bad.”
A win on Saturday will put Coach Fincham in the ranks of coaches well known to football fans, including Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Michigan’s Bo Schembeckler, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Jim Tressel, Alabama’s Bear Bryant and Nick Saban, and Amos Alanzo Stagg, Division III Championship bowl game namesake.
“I don’t think [his strategy is] anything drastically different than any of the other coaches in the country,” Jenkins said. “He is obviously doing something right. His record speaks for itself.”
According to Fincham, it isn’t a one man show by a long shot. He believes he is supported by people he considers great at what they do, including family, players, staff and administrators.
This year, eight of his fourteen assistants are Wittenberg graduates, seven of which played under Fincham, including Jenkins.
“Being from West Virginia, he has the aura around him,” Jenkins said. “He’s a respected figure on campus, especially who a lot of players look up to.”
Fincham came into this season with 191 wins and is now on an eight-game win-streak, coaching the 2017 undefeated, top-ten ranked team.
Beginning his Tiger career as the offensive line coach in 1990, Fincham was promoted to head coach in 1996 and is now in his 22nd season at the helm. Before Wittenberg, Fincham played defensive tackle at Ohio University.
“Players in that position are tough guys, guys you don’t want to mess with, but he is a man’s man,” Jenkins said.
Under Fincham’s leadership, red and white football has seen 90 All-American awards, two Academic All-Americans and a NCAA Post-Graduate Scholar.
Fincham brought the football program to their 600th win in 1999 and their 750th last season against Hiram with a 40-0 shutout.
Now into season 22, Jenkins believes Fincham has been through just about every coaching scenario possible.
“He is always looking for the next challenge,” Jenkins said. “There’s always going to be adversity. You’ve just got to Tiger Up and get through it.”
Fincham and the Tigers look for another win as they take on the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m.