Kiwanis Wittenberg Football – Jim Collins

Kiwanian Nelson Smith introduced Wittenberg Football Coach Jim Collins as the newest Coach beginning 1 December 2021.  Collins returns to Wittenberg after a 30 year coach career at several coaching endeavors, most recently at  University of Dayton.  He is a 1988 graduate of Wittenberg University and married Brooke Bevilacqua who is also a 1988 graduate of Wittenberg  Together they have three grown children, Zachary, Ryan and Brady.

The Photograph above shows Kiwanian Nelson Ted Smith, Wittenberg Football Coach Jim Collins with Springfield Kiwanis Vice President Eva Lazear

The following is the Wittenberg University article about the hiring of Jim Collins as the new Wittenberg University Football Coach

Wittenberg University is pleased to announce the hiring of veteran coach, 1988 alumnus, and former Tiger football wide receiver Jim Collins as the new head coach of Wittenberg football. Collins, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Dayton (UD), is expected to take the helm on Dec. 1, 2021.

“We are extremely excited to welcome back former Wittenberg Tiger Jim Collins as our head football coach,” said Brian Agler, vice president and director of athletics and recreation. “Jim is a proven winner who has coached championship teams. He has ‘lived’ the Wittenberg University football tradition. Being elite in all facets is the standard in our football program, and we are confident that Coach Collins will embrace this standard daily.”

Collins comes to Wittenberg with an impressive resume spanning 30 years of coaching success. Prior to his current post at UD, he served as the director of player personnel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (2019), which followed 11 years at Saginaw Valley State (2008-2019) where he served as the head coach. In that time, Collins led his team to three straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division Championships from 2011-2013, as well as three NCAA Division II playoff appearances (2009, 2011, 2013). Collins’ teams also ranked in the final National Poll twice (2009, 2013) and final Regional Poll six times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018).

Additionally, from 1997-2007, Collins served as the head coach at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, where he was named Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Coach of the Year on three separate occasions (2001, 2003, 2006). While there, Collins led his team to three NCAA Division III Playoff Appearances (2005, 2006, 2007), and his team was ranked in the final National Poll three times (#3 in 2006, #5 in 2005, #13 in 2007). During Collins’ tenure at Capital, his teams had a perfect 5-0 record against Wittenberg, including a 54-0 win in Springfield. In 2006, Collins led Capital to two wins over Wittenberg, including a victory in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Early in his career, Collins was the head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach for the University of Dubuque (1994-1996). He then served as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and wide receivers coach at Illinois Wesleyan (1991-1993), where he helped lead the Titans to the 1992 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title and an NCAA Division III Playoff berth.

Described as “a high energy leader with a proven track record of building and directing successful football programs, developing a winning culture, setting a standard of excellence, emphasizing high academic achievement, developing talent, and aggressively recruiting outstanding student athletes,” Collins called the opportunity to head the football program at Wittenberg “a dream.”

“This is the job I’ve dreamed of my whole career, and I am humbled to join the list of exceptional coaches at my alma mater,” Collins said. “Wittenberg is the total package:  A life-changing experience, excellence in academics, high moral and ethical values, and a tradition-rich athletic program that is second to none.”

Collins also praised Wittenberg’s newly renovated and expanded 265,000-square-foot Health, Wellness, and Athletics Complex as providing a significant competitive advantage.  “The new facility is cutting edge and the best in all of Division III,” he said, adding that it “rivals those at some Division I schools.”

Thinking back on his own time as a Tiger, Collins shared how the football team shaped his career trajectory, having had the honor of playing for Ron Murphy in a program built by National College Football Hall of Famers Bill Edwards and Dave Maurer.
“The coaching staff at Wittenberg created a passion in me to want to be around the game and have the same impact on other people’s lives that they had on me,” Collins said.

While at Wittenberg, Collins, who hails from Cincinnati, was named captain and Team MVP his senior year. In 1985, he earned the team’s Most Improved Offensive Player of the Year. He ranked second in program history for all-time career receptions in 1987 with 116, and he was a three-time All-OAC selection.

“We are honored to welcome Jim back home to lead the Tiger football program, which inspired him years ago,” said Wittenberg President Mike Frandsen. “In Jim, we have a champion for student success at every level and a leader who understands the power of a Wittenberg education to change lives.”

Looking ahead, Collins has his eye on one primary outcome: “Our goal is to win a National Championship. But even deeper than that, we want Wittenberg’s football program to be the most respected in the country – not just for the way we play on the field, but for the way we compete in the classroom and conduct ourselves in the community.”

Collins, who has been a member of the American Football Coaches Association since 1991, serving on the Rules Committee and All-American Committee, received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wittenberg and his master’s degree in athletic administration from Central Michigan University. He is married to Brooke Bevilacqua Collins, Wittenberg class of 1988, and together they have three grown children, Zachary, Ryan, and Brady.

In returning to Wittenberg, Collins assumes the reins of a program that has won five national championships and 33 conference titles over more than a century of gridiron excellence. The Tigers have the second-highest win total among NCAA Division III programs, and Wittenberg has not posted a losing record since 1954. Wittenberg ended 7-3 overall and 7-2 in the NCAC in 2021, good for a second-place finish.

Collins replaces Joe Fincham, who recently announced his retirement after compiling a record of 224-51 in 25 years leading the Tigers.

In his comments Jim stated that in each of the Schools he worked as a coach during interviews they stated he was a candidate because of the Reputation of Wittenberg among Schools and Universities for their winning traditions and the deserved respect of their graduates.

He also stated that he feels it is his job to create a feeling of trust among all of the players by getting to know them through an individual interview to eliminate stress in reaching their comfort zone.  He stated that it is always tough during the Changing of Coaches.  He stated when he began at Wittenberg it was the result of the efforts of Davey Maurer, one of Wittenberg’s Legends

In preparation for the upcoming Football Season Jim has the team players working out 3 times a day.  They will have 154 members out for Football and he feels that they have outstanding students as well as athletes with the return of many players from last year who were starters.  He feels it is important that students excel in the classroom as well as on the field.

In answering questions he stated they have Strength Coaches and Quickness Coaches important as Position Coaches but that all coaches assess the players when reporting on abilities.  He will call plays himself as coaching the Quarterbacks.  They look for players that will fit into the schemes of the team.  He played High School at Cincinnati Summit Day school.  The first game will be at Cortland of New York one of the Schools in the SUNY league which is a leader in their league.  The first home game will be against Wabash and will be Homecoming.