San Francisco Dons football

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San Francisco Dons
First season 1917
Last season 1982
Stadium Kezar Stadium
Location San Francisco, California
NCAA division Division II
Conference Division II Independent
All-time record 134–180–20 (.431)
Bowl record 0–0 (–)
Colors Green and Gold[1]
For information on all University of San Francisco sports, see San Francisco Dons

The San Francisco Dons football program were the intercollegiate American football team for University of San Francisco located in San Francisco, California. The team competed in NCAA Division II as a Division II Independent football program, the school's first football team was fielded in 1917. [2]

1951 season[edit]

Compared to local rivals Santa Clara and Saint Mary's, USF's football teams were historically not as strong. However, the 1951 Dons entered college football lore by fielding a team that would go undefeated and produce three National Football League (NFL) Hall of Famers (Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, Bob St. Clair), (Dick Stanfel, also in the NFL Hall of Fame, having been a senior the year prior bringing the total for the 1950 team to four members enshrined), five who were selected to the Pro Bowl in their careers and eight in total who played in the NFL.[3] The Sugar, Orange and Gator Bowls all considered inviting the Dons. However, all three were located in the South. Only the Orange Bowl was willing to invite the Dons, and then on the condition that Matson and Burl Toler, the Dons' only black players, were excluded,[3] although the football program was in severe financial straits (it was shut down after the season), the Dons turned down the bid. As a result, USF's finest football team ever was to be its last in Division I. Football made a brief comeback as a Division II sport from the 1960s to the early 1980s, but USF has not fielded a varsity team since 1982.

The coach, Joe Kuharich, at times, would delegate recruiting responsibilities to his freshman coach, Brad Lynn. Lynn had little to offer prospective players in the way of scholarship inducements beyond tuition and room and board in an old ROTC barracks. However, Lynn would take recruits to the highest hill on campus and gesture out towards the sweeping panorama of San Francisco saying, "THIS is your campus." Only a handful of players from that 1951 team had been considered blue-ribbon prospects in high school. Two of the team's best players, Toler and guard Louis (Red) Stephens, had not even played high school football. Marchetti was a high school dropout who had played only sparingly when he was in school.

The 1951 Dons were honored during the 2008 Fiesta Bowl and were the subject of the 2014 documentary '51 Dons.

1951 San Francisco Dons football
Record 9-0-0 (Final AP Poll ranking: 14)
Head coach Kuharich
Assistant coaches Brad Lynn, Ryan, Kerr, Daly, Zanazzi
  • Arenivar
  • Arnoldy
  • Becker
  • Boggan
  • Brown
  • Bruna
  • Carley
  • Chess
  • Colombini
  • Conte
  • Cronan
  • Dando
  • Dawson
  • DeBernardi
  • Dwyer
  • Giorgi
  • Henneberry
  • Hillig
  • Holm
  • Huxley
  • Kearney
  • Lawson Madden
  • Marchetti
  • Matson
  • McLaughlin
  • McMahon
  • Mergen
  • Montero
  • Monti
  • Moriarity
  • Peacock
  • Retzloff
  • Roland
  • Sachs
  • Sakowski
  • Scudero
  • Schaeffer
  • Skalla
  • Slajchert
  • Springer
  • St. Clair
  • Stephens
  • Thiel
  • Thomas
  • Toler
  • Tringali
  • Weibel
  • Welsh
  • Whitney
  • Wilwerding
Sports information officer Rozelle

Notable former players[edit]

Notable alumni include:

Year-by-year results[edit]


  1. ^ "University of San Francisco Graphic Standards Manual" (PDF). Retrieved April 5, 2016. 
  2. ^ "San Francisco Dons Historical Data". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  3. ^ a b Jeffri Chadiha. "1951 USF Dons: The Team That Stood Tall".