Rey Dempsey
    Rey Dempsey

    Sport/Years/Inducted:
    Football/1976-83/1996


    Purists may suggest William McAndrew who operated well with little assistance was the best-ever football coach in SIU's history. Others may nominate the productive Al Kawal or the likeable Carmen Piccone. However, it's a matter of fact that Rey Dempsey was the finest all-around football coach in SIU's long history and for that reason he is now included in its Sports Hall of Fame. The four McAndrew, Kawal, Piccone, and Dempsey--are SIU's only football coaches who guided their teams to more victories than defeats. McAndrew's teams won 83, lost 79 and tied 20 in early years. Kawal was 20-15-2 and Piccone 28-20-0. But Dempsey, who came to SIU in 1976 after 18 years of coaching at the high school, college and professional levels, wasted little time in delivering consistency for Saluki fans. In three of his first four years, his clubs posted winning records. Not just 6-5 happenings, but a pair of 7-4 marks and one 8-3 record, which, incidentally, was only the third time in SIU's history that its football team had won eight or more games. Then, of course, there was 1983...SIU's most glorious of all seasons. Ten straight victories...inclusion one week in Sports Illustrated's "Top 20" teams along with the Michigans, Notre Dames and other perennial powers. Then there was the number one seed in the post-season NCAA Division I-AA playoffs...a first round bye...back-to-back playoff victories in McAndrew Stadium followed by the grand finale, a 43-7 win over Western Carolina in the championship game in Charleston, S.C. The team's overall effort was "like perfect," to steal a Demseyism. And, the season was almost as sensational... like 13-1, which climaxed his overall 54-37 won-loss record at SIU. Certainly, it was a true Hall of Fame performance.