Tubby Raymond leaves a lasting legacy among his former players

Delaware State News file photos

NEWARK — Tubby Raymond was born in Flint, Michigan.

It only seemed like he lived in Delaware all his life.

And Raymond didn’t invent the Wing-T. But he certainly went a long way in putting the unique offense and the Blue Hens’ football program on the map.
In the end, the three — Raymond, the Wing-T and Delaware football — became inexorably linked together.

But on Friday, as word began to spread that Raymond had died at the age of 92, it also became clear that the man himself left a lasting legacy among his former players.

“So sorry to lose the best coach I ever had…the one and only Tubby Raymond!” tweeted former Blue Hen star quarterback Rich Gannon. “The best thing to ever happen to me and Delaware football. I don’t play in the NFL 17 yrs without him!”

“May we all live as full & enriching a life as he did & may his warm memory provide comfort to his family during this difficult time.” tweeted Sam Houston State coach K.C. Keeler, who replaced Raymond as UD’s head coach in 2002.

“A great deal of emotion in this one,” wrote Bucknell coach Joe Susan, another former Blue Hen, “My College Head Coach Tubby Raymond passed away today. He impacted many and his legacy will be eternal. I am privileged to call him COACH.”

Raymond spent 48 years coaching football at Delaware, including 36 as head coach. With a record of 300-119-3, the College Football Hall of Famer was one of only four coaches at the time to win 300 games all at one school.

Of course, Raymond had opportunities to go to other programs. But he never found a reason to leave.

“Every time I looked at one of those places, I was making as much money as they were,” Raymond said years ago. “I’m a tenured professor in a great place.

“Year after year, when opportunities presented themselves, there would always be some reason why I wouldn’t go.”

By staying on the sidelines for almost five decades, Raymond worked with new generations of players all the time. He adjusted, though, and kept turning out winning teams.

Three of Raymond’s last 10 squads reached the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals.

“He never lost any fire,” said linebacker Darrell Edmonds, who captained Raymond’s last team in 2001. “He’s as sharp as could be. His sense of humor, his energy, his anger. … it was all still there.”

“Tubby gave me the opportunity to play the game I love at a university that changed my life,” wrote Ryan Carty, another one of Raymond’s last players and now an assistant coach at New Hampshire. “I’m so grateful to have known him. Thank you, coach. We will miss you.”

Raymond left scores of his players with a tangible connection to him.

Raymond made a tradition of painting small portraits of a senior player during the week before games. The paintings would include motivational words about that week’s game.

In later years, the hobby, which started in the 1950s, brought Raymond national media attention from outlets like Sports Illustrated and on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “Nightly News,’ CNN, and Fox Sports. He was still painting the portraits until earlier this year.

On Friday, Keeler tweeted pictures of his two Raymond portraits — one of him as a player and one as coach. They hang in his office.

Keeler wrote that the paintings are “a daily reminder that every day I’m striving to be as impactful a coach as he was.”

On Friday there were no shortage of tributes to Raymond pouring in on social media.

Lehigh Football Nation called Raymond “the head coach everyone at LehighFootball loved to hate, yet still respected. RIP, Tubby.”

The man who earned his memorable nickname as a child had an impact on people who went on to accomplish things far outside the world of football.

Delaware Governor John Carney worked for Raymond as a graduate assistant coach after college.

“It’s no secret that Tubby was an innovator on the football field, and created a nationally renowned program at UD,” Carney wrote. “He was also an intense coach. Tubby knew how to motivate those around him, and he inspired fierce loyalty among his assistant coaches, players, and fans.”

In Newark, the field at Delaware Stadium now bears Raymond’s name. But it is his former players who will carry on the memories of the coach and man he was.

Bill Cubit went from playing for Raymond to becoming the head coach at both Western Michigan and Illinois.

“We have lost a great man in Coach Tubby Raymond,” Cubit wrote on Friday. “Besides my father he was the most influential man in my life and was a big factor in my coaching career. RIP Coach.”

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