Former UVA football coach George Welsh named ACC Legend

george welshFormer UVA head coach George Welsh was announced by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Thursday as one of its Class of 2014 Legends for the 10th annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, which will be played in Charlotte, N.C., on Dec. 6.

The Legends will be honored during this year’s Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game weekend at the ACC Night of Legends, sponsored by the Belk Bowl on Friday, Dec. 5, and on Dec. 6, during ceremonies at Bank of America Stadium for the 10th annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship. The ACC Football Championship game will be nationally televised with either a 7:45 p.m. (ESPN) or 8 p.m. (ABC) kickoff.

Welsh (1982-2000) retired in 2000 as the winningest coach in ACC history having compiled 189 wins in a 28-year career as head coach at Navy and Virginia. His total of 134 wins at Virginia is still the second-best mark of any ACC head coach, trailing only Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, and his overall total ranks 31st among all coaches in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision. His 85 ACC wins in conference games is also the second-highest total in league history. Prior to his arrival, Virginia had won just 33 ACC games in its history. His rebuilding job at UVa stands as one of the great coaching accomplishments in modern collegiate football. Welsh inherited a Virginia program that had a 1-10 record and averaged less than three victories a year in the previous 11 seasons.

In his 19 years in Charlottesville, Welsh’s teams averaged seven wins a year, including a stretch of 13 consecutive seasons when Virginia won seven or more football games. Six of his Cavalier teams finished ranked in the nation’s Top 20, two tied for ACC championships, and he led UVa to 12 appearances in bowl games. Prior to Welsh’s arrival in Charlottesville, Virginia had never been to a bowl game and Welsh’s 19-year total of 134 wins is more than the Cavaliers recorded in their previous 37 years (1945-81) of football.

While at Virginia he was named ACC Coach of the Year four times (1983, 1984, 1991, 1995) and National Coach of the Year once (1991). His 1989 and 1995 Virginia teams tied for the ACC football title and his 1990 team was ranked No. 1 nationally at midseason. His 1995 UVa squad was the first ACC team to beat Florida State in conference play, ending the Seminoles’ 29-game conference winning streak after joining the league.

An All-American quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1955, Welsh began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Penn State under Rip Engle and then Joe Paterno (1963-72). He became head coach at Navy in 1973 and rebuilt that program into a consistent winner, inheriting a program that had won just 12 games over the previous five seasons. He compiled a 55-46-1 record, taking the Midshipmen to bowl games in three of his final four seasons in Annapolis.

Welsh was inducted to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2004. Originally a native of Coaldale, Pa., Welsh now lives in Charlottesville, Va.