Rey Dempsey

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Rey Dempsey
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1936-09-20) September 20, 1936 (age 80)
East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1954–1957 Geneva
Position(s) Quarterback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1958–1960 Hopewell HS (PA) (assistant)
1961–1964 East Palestine HS (OH)
1965–1970 Central Catholic HS (OH)
1971–1972 Bowling Green (OL)
1973–1974 Youngstown State
1975 Detroit Lions (ST)
1976–1983 Southern Illinois
1984–1985 Memphis State
Head coaching record
Overall 73–57–3 (college)
54–43–3 (high school)
Tournaments 0–1 (NCAA D-II playoffs)
3–0 (NCAA D-I-AA playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
1 NCAA Division I-AA (1983)
AFCA NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year (1983)

Rey Dempsey (born September 20, 1936) is a former American football coach. He served as the head football coach at Youngstown State University from 1973 to 1974, Southern Illinois University from 1976 to 1983, and Memphis State University—now known as the University of Memphis—from 1984 to 1985, compiling a career college football record of 73–57–3. In 1975, he was a special teams coach for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). In 1983, his Southern Illinois team went 13–1, the best record in school history, winning an NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship. From 1991 to 2002, he served as Senior Pastor of Christ the King Church.

Early life and playing career[edit]

Dempsey was born in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in nearby Pitcairn. In high school, he captained his school's football, basketball, and baseball team. His football coach was Chuck Klausing, who later served as head football coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University and was an assistant coach at the University of West Virginia and the University of Pittsburgh.

Dempsey attended Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. There he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. He played quarterback on the Geneva Golden Tornadoes football team under head coach Byron E. Morgan.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

High school and Bowling Green[edit]

Dempsey began his coaching career as an assistant football coach at Hopewell High School in Hopewell Township in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. There we he worked for three years under Bill McDonald, who later served as head coach at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. In 1960 Dempsey got his first head coaching job, at East Palestine High School in East Palestine, Ohio. His record there was 21–18–1 in four seasons. Dempsey moved on to Central Catholic High School, in Perry Township, Stark County, Ohio near Canton, in 1965. His record was 33–25–2 in six seasons at Central Catholic. His 1970 team shut out eight of their ten opponents. Dempsey then moved to the college ranks, working as an assistant football coach at Bowling Green State University in 1971 and 1972. He coached the offensive line under head coach Don Nehlen.[1]

Youngstown State[edit]

Dempsey was appointed as head football coach at Youngstown State University in January 1973.[2] He succeeded Dike Beede, who helmed the Youngstown State Penguins football program from its inception in 1938 until his retirement following the 1972 season. Beede died in drowning accident in December 1972.[3] Dempsey was selected for the Youngtown State post over two other finalists: Bo Rein, who later served as head coach at North Carolina State University, from 1976 to 1979, and Bob Commings, who was the head coach at the University of Iowa from 1974 to 1978.[1]

Southern Illinois[edit]

Dempsey was the 14th head football coach at Southern Illinois University and he held that position for eight seasons, from 1976 until 1983. His overall coaching record at Southern Illinois was 54–37. This ranks him third at Southern Illinois in total wins and second in winning percentage.[4]

Team Focus[edit]

Dempsey now works alongside Mike Gottfried with the Team Focus program, a leadership camp for fatherless boys. He has been involved in the program since its founding in 2000 and continues to act as the camp pastor and director of spiritual development, providing lectures and sermons.[5]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs NCAA#
Youngstown State Penguins (NCAA Division II Independent) (1973–1974)
1973 Youngstown State 4–6
1974 Youngstown State 8–2 L NCAA Division II Quarterfinal
Youngstown State: 12–8
Southern Illinois Salukis (NCAA Division I independent) (1976)
1976 Southern Illinois 7–4
Southern Illinois Salukis (Missouri Valley Conference) (1977–1983)
1977 Southern Illinois 3–8 0–3 6th
1978 Southern Illinois 7–4 3–2 3rd
1979 Southern Illinois 8–3 4–1 2nd
1980 Southern Illinois 3–8 1–5 7th
1981 Southern Illinois 7–4 5–2 3rd
1982 Southern Illinois 6–5 4–1 T–2nd
1983 Southern Illinois 13–1 5–1 2nd W NCAA Division I-AA Championship 1
Southern Illinois: 54–37
Memphis State Tigers (NCAA Division I-A Independent) (1984–1985)
1984 Memphis State 5–5–1
1985 Memphis State 2–7–2
Memphis State: 7–12–3
Total: 73–57–3
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title


  1. ^ a b c Mollica, Pete (January 23, 1973). "Dempsey new YSU grid coach". New Castle News. New Castle, Pennsylvania. p. 15. Retrieved January 2, 2017 – via open access publication – free to read. 
  2. ^ "Dempsey Named New Menton". El Paso Herald-Post. El Paso, Texas. United Press International. January 10, 1973. p. 15. Retrieved January 3, 2017 – via open access publication – free to read. 
  3. ^ "'Dike' Beeded Found Dead". Raleigh Register. Beckley, West Virginia. United Press International. December 14, 1972. p. 17. Retrieved January 3, 2017 – via open access publication – free to read. 
  4. ^ Southern Illinois Coaching Records
  5. ^