Denny Stolz

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Denny Stolz
Stolz c. 1970
Biographical details
Born(1933-09-12)September 12, 1933
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
DiedMay 25, 2023(2023-05-25) (aged 89)
Midland, Michigan, U.S.
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1955–1962Haslett HS (MI)
1963–1964Eastern HS (MI)
1971–1972Michigan State (DC)
1973–1975Michigan State
1977–1985Bowling Green
1986–1988San Diego State
Head coaching record
Overall125–93–2 (college)
Accomplishments and honors
3 MIAA (1967–1968, 1970)
2 MAC (1982, 1985)
1 WAC (1986)
MIAA Coach of the Year (1967)
Big Ten Coach of the Year (1974)
MAC Coach of the Year (1982, 1985)
WAC Coach of the Year (1986)

Dennis Earl Stolz (September 12, 1933 – May 25, 2023) was an American college football coach. He served as the head coach at Alma College (1965–1970), Michigan State University (1973–1975), Bowling Green State University (1977–1985), and San Diego State University (1986–1988), compiling a career college record of 126–92–2. He earned conference coach of the year honors while at each school.

Stolz played both football and baseball while attending Alma College. He coached at the high school level before returning to his alma mater and starting his college coaching career.

Early life and education[edit]

Stolz was born in Lansing, Michigan, on September 12, 1933.[1] He attended Mason High School, where he earned 10 varsity letters: four in baseball and three apiece in football and basketball.[2] At Alma College, Stolz was a four-year letterman in both football and baseball.[2] In football, he earned second-team all-conference honors playing quarterback in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) in 1954.[3][4] He graduated in 1955.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

Stolz began coaching at Haslett High School in 1955, compiling a 40–13–3 record in eight seasons. After a short term at Eastern High School, he returned to Alma College, where the football team had not had a winning season in a decade. Stolz turned the program around in two seasons, leading them to an 8–0 season in 1967, when he was named the MIAA coach of the year. They were 8–0 again in 1968, and won three MIAA championships in 1967, 1968 and 1970.[2] He was 34–16 in six seasons at Alma.[5]

Stolz joined the Michigan State Spartans in 1971,[2] serving as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for two seasons before being promoted to succeed Duffy Daugherty as head coach on December 12, 1972. He was selected over Johnny Majors, Lee Corso and Barry Switzer who had removed himself from consideration the previous day.[6] In 1974, he led the Spartans to a 7–3–1 record, winning their last five games. They came within a tie game of sharing the Big Ten Conference title with Ohio State and Michigan,[7] and Stolz was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.[2] His three years as Spartans head coach was marred by a player recruiting scandal that culminated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) placing the program on three years' probation on January 25, 1976. As a result, the Spartans were prohibited from any television and bowl game appearances through the 1978 season.[8] Stolz resigned at the behest of university president Clifton R. Wharton Jr. and the board of trustees just over seven weeks later on March 16, 1976.[9] He left Michigan State with a 19–13–1 record in three seasons.[10]

After a year away from coaching, Stolz coached the Bowling Green Falcons for nine seasons. He began with five non-winning seasons. Stolz then led Bowling Green to four straight winning seasons with Brian McClure, who became the second quarterback in major college history to throw for more than 10,000 yards in their career.[11] The Falcons won Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships in 1982 and 1985, and Stolz was named the MAC Coach of the Year in both years.[2] In his final season at Bowling Green in 1985, he accepted the head coach position with the San Diego State Aztecs three days before the Falcons played in the 1985 California Bowl, which they lost 51–7 to Fresno State.[10] Stolz was 56–45–1 at Bowling Green,[5] including 34–12 in his last four seasons.[10]

At San Diego State University, Stolz inherited a program that had three consecutive losing seasons and was coming off its second-worst home attendance in its then-19 years at San Diego Stadium, barely reaching 10,000 fans in each of its final two home games of 1985.[10] In his first season in 1986, he led the Aztecs to their only Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title and appearance in San Diego's Holiday Bowl.[12] In a nationally televised game, San Diego State clinched the conference title by defeating BYU for the first time since 1970,[13][14] and earned their first bowl game since the Pasadena Bowl in 1969.[14] Stolz was voted the WAC Coach of the Year,[2] and the school rewarded him by extending his contract an extra year to 1991.[11] He was fired two years later, when the Aztecs finished 3–8 in 1988.[11][13] He was 16–19 in three seasons at San Diego State.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Stolz and his brother Stan were both inducted into the Mason High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Alma College Athletic Hall of Fame, and Greater Lansing Area Sports Hall of Fame.[2]

Stolz was married to his wife, Cena, for 60 years, until her death in 2016. He died at home in Midland, Michigan, on May 25, 2023, at age 89.[1][5]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Alma Scots (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1965–1970)
1965 Alma 3–5 1–4 T–5th
1966 Alma 5–4[a] 3–2 T–2nd
1967 Alma 8–0 5–0 1st
1968 Alma 8–0 5–0 1st
1969 Alma 6–3 4–1 2nd
1970 Alma 5–3 4–1 T–1st
Alma: 35–15 22–8
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten Conference) (1973–1975)
1973 Michigan State 5–6 4–4 T–4th
1974 Michigan State 7–3–1 6–1–1 3rd 18 12
1975 Michigan State 7–4 4–4 T–3rd
Michigan State: 19–13–1 14–9–1
Bowling Green Falcons (Mid-American Conference) (1977–1985)
1977 Bowling Green 5–7 4–3 T–5th
1978 Bowling Green 4–7 3–5 T–5th
1979 Bowling Green 4–7 3–5 8th
1980 Bowling Green 4–7 4–4 7th
1981 Bowling Green 5–5–1 5–3–1 4th
1982 Bowling Green 7–5 7–2 1st L California
1983 Bowling Green 8–3 7–2 T–2nd
1984 Bowling Green 8–3 7–2 2nd
1985 Bowling Green 11–1 9–0 1st L California
Bowling Green: 56–45–1 49–26–1
San Diego State Aztecs (Western Athletic Conference) (1986–1988)
1986 San Diego State 8–4 7–1 1st L Holiday
1987 San Diego State 5–7 4–4 5th
1988 San Diego State 3–8 3–5 T–6th
San Diego State: 16–19 14–10
Total: 126–92–2[5]
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth
  1. ^ A 21–20 loss to Bluffton was forfeited to Alma.[15]



  1. ^ a b "Dennis 'Denny' Stolz Obituary". Legacy. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h McCullen, Ryan (July 24, 2015). "Stolz brothers inducted in Mason Athletic Hall of Fame". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Alma College Names Stolz Grid Coach". Lansing State Journal. August 11, 1965. p. G-1. Retrieved May 28, 2023 – via
  4. ^ "Olivet's Ed Bryant Only Area Man On 1954 All-MIAA Football Selection". Lansing State Journal. November 29, 1954. p. 14. Retrieved May 28, 2023 – via
  5. ^ a b c d e Wenzel, Matt (May 26, 2023). "Former Michigan State football coach Denny Stolz dies at age 89". MLive. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  6. ^ "Denny Stolz Gets Michigan State Post". The New York Times. United Press International. December 13, 1972. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  7. ^ Gross, Bob (November 25, 1974). "Stolz for Coach of Year". Lansing State Journal. p. C-1. Retrieved May 27, 2023 – via
  8. ^ "Mich. State Football on Probation". New York Times. Associated Press. January 26, 1976.
  9. ^ "Stolz quits; Ganakas fired". Chicago Tribune. United Press International. March 16, 1976. Sec. 6, p. 1. Retrieved May 27, 2023 – via
  10. ^ a b c d Dolan, Steve (December 17, 1985). "Honesty Is His Policy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  11. ^ a b c Holbreich, Curt (November 19, 1988). "Stolz's Finale for SDSU Arrives a Decade Early". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  12. ^ Shanahan, Tom (September 5, 2001). "Football at SDSU, ASU followed different paths – Sun Devils flourished – Aztecs have struggled". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. D-1. Retrieved May 27, 2023 – via NewsBank. There has been only one WAC title and Holiday Bowl trip, in 1986 when the Aztecs lost to Iowa 39–38 under Stolz.
  13. ^ a b Simers, T. J. (April 14, 1991). "Stolz Still Searching For A Reason Behind His Change of Course". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  14. ^ a b Dolan, Steve (December 1, 1986). "WAC Title Sweet for Stolz, Aztec". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Football Record Book" (PDF). Alma College. Fall 2022. pp. 21, 30. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  16. ^ "MIAA Record Book 2020–21" (PDF). Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. p. 4. Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  17. ^ "Dennis Stolz". Sports Reference. Retrieved May 27, 2023.