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Wes Fesler
Title Head coach
Sport Football
Born June 29, 1908
Place of birth United States Youngstown, Ohio
Died July 30, 1989 (aged 81)
Career highlights
Overall 34-31-8
Bowls 1-0
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
1 Big Ten (1949)
Playing career
1928-1930 Ohio State
Position End
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Ohio State
College Football Hall of Fame, 1954 (Bio)

Wesley Eugene "Wes" Fesler (June 29, 1908 – July 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.



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



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.

Preceded by
Bill Glassgow
Big Ten Football MVP
Succeeded by
Clarence Munn
Preceded by
First award
Ohio State Buckeyes
Football Season MVP

Succeeded by
Robert Haubrich
Preceded by
Alan Holman
Ohio State Buckeyes
Football Captain

Succeeded by
Stu Holcomb


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.

Preceded by
George Van Heyde
Ohio State Buckeyes
Basketball Captain

Succeeded by
Dick Larkins


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 record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Pittsburgh Panthers (Independent) (1946)
1946 Pittsburgh 3-5-1
Pittsburgh: 3-5-1
Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1947–1950)
1947 Ohio State 2-6-1 1-4-1 9th
1948 Ohio State 6-3 3-3 4th
1949 Ohio State 7-1-2 4-1-1 T-1st W Rose 6
1950 Ohio State 6-3 5-2 T-2nd 10 14
Ohio State: 21-13-3 13-10-2
Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten Conference) (1951–1953)
1951 Minnesota 2-6-1 1-4-1 7th
1952 Minnesota 4-3-2 3-1-2 T-4th
1953 Minnesota 4-4-1 3-3-1 T-5th
Minnesota: 10-13-4 7-8-4
Total: 34-31-8
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ed Wachter
Harvard University Head Basketball Coach
Succeeded by
Earl Brown
Preceded by
Jack Blott
Wesleyan University Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Norm Daniels
Preceded by
Leonard Hattinger
Princeton University Head Basketball Coach
Succeeded by
Franklin Cappon
Preceded by
Clark Shaughnessy
University of Pittsburgh Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Mike Milligan
Preceded by
Paul O. Bixler
Ohio State University Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Wayne "Woody" Hayes
Preceded by
Bernie Bierman
University of Minnesota Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Murray Warmath


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