Former Head Football Coach
United States Air Force Academy
1984 - 2006
Coach DeBerry was born in Cheraw, South Carolina in 1938. In high school, DeBerry was a four-sport varsity letter winner, lettering five times in baseball, three times each in football and basketball and twice in track. He was also an all-state selection in baseball and football. DeBerry graduated in 1960 from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he lettered in football and baseball. He was also active in the Kappa Sigma Fraternity while in college.
After six years of coaching and teaching in the South Carolina high school ranks, DeBerry returned to Wofford, where he coached for two years as an assistant when Wofford won 21 consecutive games and was ranked first in the NAIA. For the next nine years (71-79), DeBerry was an assistant coach at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. While DeBerry was there, Appalachian State was ranked in the top 10 nationally in either rushing, total offense or scoring offense three times. In 1974, the team ranked sixth nationally in pass defense when he was defensive coordinator.
Air Force head coach Ken Hatfield hired DeBerry in 1980 as the Air Force Academy quarterbacks coach. The next year, DeBerry was promoted to offensive coordinator. By 1982, Air Force posted an 8-5 record and beat Vanderbilt in the Hall of Fame Bowl while averaging 30.4 points per game. After the 1983 season, Hatfield left Air Force for Arkansas after the Falcons' 10-2 season and Independence Bowl victory. DeBerry was promoted to head coach.
During DeBerry's tenure as head coach, Air Force won at least eight games 11 different seasons. DeBerry's first team, in 1984, was 8-4 and beat Virginia Tech in the Independence Bowl. The next year, the Falcons won 12 games, and were ranked as high as No. 4 nationally until a 28-21 loss at BYU. In the final Associated Press poll, the Falcons ranked eighth. DeBerry has coached the Falcons to three conference championships, winning the Western Athletic Conference championship in 1985, 1995, and 1998. The 1998 team's 12-1 record completed the first back-to-back 10-win seasons in school history, and finished the season ranked 10th nationally.
DeBerry's Falcons have dominated the Commander in Chief's Trophy series with arch rivals Army and Navy. Air Force has won the trophy 14 times and shared it once in DeBerry's 21 seasons. He is a combined 34-8 against the Black Knights and Midshipmen and is the winningest coach in service academy history. Since the Commander-in-Chief's series began in 1972, Air Force has gone to 16 bowl games, compared to a combined 13 for Army and Navy. DeBerry has led the Academy to 12 of those bowl games and has a 6-6 record. On December 15, 2006 DeBerry announced his retirement.
Coach DeBerry has been named WAC Coach of the Year three times in his career, and in 1985, won the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award as NCAA college football's coach of the year. DeBerry has also been awarded the State Farm Coach of Distinction award in 2001, and has been inducted into the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. DeBerry received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Wofford during its graduation ceremony in 2003.
In 1996, DeBerry served as president of the American Football Coaches Association, and is currently the chairman of the AFCA ethics committee. He was honored by the Independence Bowl as a member of its Hall of Fame. In 2005, DeBerry was honored with induction into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame.