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Wes Fesler

Wes Fesler

Wesley Eugene "Wes" Fesler (June 29, 1908July 30, 1989) was a three-sport athlete at the Ohio State University, including three consecutive years as a consensus first-team All-America selection in American football. He was later the football head coach at Wesleyan, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, and Minnesota, and the basketball head coach at Harvard and Princeton.

Athlete

Fesler came to Ohio State from Youngstown, Ohio. At Ohio State, Fesler was Phi Beta Kappa and earned a total of nine varsity letters in baseball, basketball, and football. He is also a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha, the Alpha Rho Chapter Fraternities and sororities. He was a charter inductee in the Ohio State Varsity O Hall of Fame in 1977.

Football

Many believe Fesler's greatest talents were in football. He primarily played end and was a consensus first-team All-America selection in 1928 and 1929 and a unanimous first-team All-America selection in 1930. Depending on the game situation, he would sometimes move into the backfield as a fullback. In 1930, he was voted the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten.

Jock Sutherland, the University of Pittsburgh coach, called Fesler "a one man team. It is unbelievable how that boy can do so many things." In 1939 Grantland Rice listed Fesler at end on his all-time college football team. Fesler was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

In 1934, high-speed photographer "Doc" Edgerton took the now-classic photograph "Wes Fesler Kicking a Football." The stroboscope photograph demonstrated the dent in the ball at the point of contact.

Basketball

In basketball Fesler was a guard. He was the basketball captain as a junior in the Spring of 1930, and the football captain as a senior in the Autumn of that year. He was Ohio State's first consensus first-team All-America selection in basketball in 1931.

Coach

Fesler ignored interest from teams of the National Football League and instead pursued a career in coaching. He began his coaching career as an assistant to his Ohio State football coach, Sam Willaman, in 1931 and 1932. In 1933 Fesler accepted an offer from Harvard University as head coach of the basketball team and backfield coach of the football team. He stayed at Harvard until 1941. The position at Harvard turned out to be the longest tenure of his career.

In 1941 Fesler accepted an offer from Wesleyan University to be the head coach of their football team. Unfortunately the Wesleyan football program was interrupted in 1942 by World War II. In 1945 Fesler accepted an offer from Princeton as head basketball coach and assistant football coach. He was later the football head coach at the University of Pittsburgh (1946), Ohio State (1947-50) and the University of Minnesota (1951-53).

Fesler's 1949 Ohio State team was the Big Ten Conference co-champion and beat the University of California in the Rose Bowl. He helped develop the talents of 1950 Heisman Trophy winner Vic Janowicz at Ohio State and two-time Big Ten MVP (1952 and 1953) Paul Giel at Minnesota.

Fesler had a stronger record as a football coach than as a basketball coach. His combined record as a major college football head coach (at Pitt, Ohio State, and Minnesota) was 34-31-8. His combined record as basketball head coach (at Harvard and Princeton) was 67-108.

Football head coaching records

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