Setting the bar

Hanover College football coach
Perry on winning track

Michella Marino
Contributing Writer

(February 2006) – If you’re a football fan and have spent any amount of time in Indiana, chances are you’ve heard of the legendary Tony Hinkle, the former football coach at Butler University and Hall of Famer. Up until Oct. 1, 2005, Hinkle was the winningest college football coach in Indiana on all levels.

Wayne Perry

Photo by Michella Marino

Wayne Perry has surprised
even himself with his winning ways.

But on Oct. 1, Coach C. Wayne Perry, Hanover College’s head football coach, surpassed Hinkle’s 165 wins to become the new record holder. Perry and his Panthers defeated the College of Mount St. Joseph in an overtime victory to clinch the record. Although Perry will go down in the record books as the winningest coach, if you talk to anyone who knows him, they’ll say he’s so much more than that.
Perry graduated from Madison High School in 1968 and then headed north to DePauw University, where he played college football for four years and was an All-American. After graduation, he stayed on as a graduate assistant for two more years. He then proceeded to coach high school football at East Central High School before heading back to the college arena in 1979. He was an assistant coach at Hanover College for three years before taking over the head coaching position in 1982, becoming the youngest head coach in the state. His story is history from there.
Perry’s current overall coaching record is 168-72-2, but in the past 24 seasons he “never, ever thought about (breaking the record).” When he first started coaching, he would set goals to win games. He started out with the goal of winning 50, then 100, and then 150, but it was not his intention to break the record.
Once his program accomplished the 150 mark, the buzz began about Perry’s possible run on the record. However, Perry said, “It’s not my award. It’s the program’s milestone.”
He considers it an accomplishment to “do something no one else has done” but claims that it was a group effort all along. He considers it a privilege to have his name at the top but again believes that it’s “a total program milestone.”
When asked about his secret to success, Perry responded with two things: “No. 1 is hiring good coaches. No. 2 is recruiting good players.” Perry knows that one man cannot do everything alone so he delegates responsibilities to his coaching staff.
“I used to make all the calls, but now I don’t make any,” he said. His job is to organize the game and make the administrative decisions during the game such as what to do in fourth down situations and talking with the officials. Along with trusting his coaching staff and giving them responsibilities, he knows his success is up to his players as well.
“It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s the Jimmys and Joes,” meaning coaches can run what they want, but the players must have the ability and talent to execute the plays and make things happen.
Perry considers himself a players’ coach because he listens to his players and is always responsive to their concerns. He also wants his players to be No. 1 in whatever they do, whether it is on or off the field. He feels that he works with the cream of the crop everyday, and he knows that the football players at Hanover College make sacrifices to play at the Division 3 level. Hanover has high academic standards, so Perry realizes he’s dealing with smart athletes. Perry said that this can be advantageous when he makes “adjustments on the run because the players can adapt.” His players work hard for 12 months a year, and they devote so much of their precious time to playing. “Many people don’t understand it,” he said.
Many of Perry’s former players turn to coaching after their years at Hanover, and many even return to Perry’s staff. Perry attributes this to the tradition, success, and positive experience they obtained at Hanover. Coaches who presently fit this description are Terry Peebles, Class of 1996, and Steve Baudendistel, Class of 2001.
Peebles is Hanover’s Offensive Coordinator and played quarterback for Perry. He was a part of the first undefeated team and led the Panthers to their first-ever trip to the NCAA playoffs. Peebles always had an interest in coaching, but prior to playing at Hanover, he thought he wanted to be a high school football coach. While playing for Perry and his staff, he saw what they did and realized they had fun while doing it.
“High School coaches were always worried about so many other factors,” Peebles said, and he didn’t see in them the same unique intensity that Perry had. Peebles said he admired the way Perry balanced his duties as a father and a coach.
Baudendistel, the Special Teams Coordinator and Outside Linebackers Coach, wasn’t even interested in coaching before he got to Hanover. He wanted to go to law school. However, while playing at Hanover, Baudendistel’s future interests changed, and he claims that Perry’s football program exemplifies how a program should be. Baudendistel said he respects the simplicity Perry brings to the game.
Both Peebles and Baudendistel say Perry’s new record will help the program in the future. “It’s puts him in a class by himself,” Baudendistel said.
He believes that more high school coaches will recognize the quality program Perry runs and will want to send their players to the Hanover program. Peebles said Perry’s record “legitimizes Hanover College football… and puts us on the pedestal with other great universities.”
Peebles added, “Coach Perry is as good of a guy as you’ll ever meet.”

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