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Greenville Business Magazine

Furman Football Coaching Legend Dick Sheridan Passes Away

Jul 06, 2023 04:21PM ● By David Dykes

Furman football coaching legend Dick Sheridan passed away July 6, 2023, at Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C.  He was 81.

“Today is an incredibly sad day for me personally, as well as for so many others, to hear of the passing of revered Coach Dick Sheridan,” said Furman head coach Clay Hendrix, who played for Sheridan at Furman from 1982-85 and later coached under him at N.C. State. "The lessons he taught and example he set for so many still resonate with us all. I can assure you there are a bunch of older guys like me with incredibly heavy hearts today."

Hendrix added, "The class, integrity, care for his players, and competitiveness he always displayed will forever be part of those who knew him. What he accomplished at Furman was nothing short of remarkable. The impact he made on so many young men will last for years to come. He was such a special man, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Sheridan family.”

Elected to the College Hall of Fame in 2020 and inducted on Dec. 7, 2021, in ceremonies in Las Vegas, Nev., Sheridan began his collegiate head-coaching career at Furman in 1978 and won 69 games over eight seasons, posting a 74.4 winning percentage that remains the best in school history. 

During his first season in Greenville, he guided the Paladins to the program’s first Southern Conference football championship while earning his first of three league coach of the year honors.

Sheridan’s Furman teams would win six SoCon titles under his direction, becoming just the second program in league history to win four in a row (1980-83). 

After overseeing the Paladins’ transition from NCAA I-A (FBS) to the NCAA I-AA (FCS) in 1982, he directed Furman to a first-round playoff appearance that year followed by a 10-2-1 season in 1983 that culminated with a trip to the FCS semifinals.

Sheridan’s final year at Furman was his best, as the Paladins won a then-school record 12 games and narrowly lost the FCS National Championship Game.

The 1985 AFCA FCS National and Region II Coach of the Year earned multiple South Carolina Coach of the Year accolades during his career from the S.C. Sportswriters Association, Columbia Touchdown Club and Charleston-Palmetto Touchdown Club.

While leading the Paladins, Sheridan coached eight first-team All-Americans, 75 all-conference players, and five SoCon Players of the Year, including the league’s first three-time selection Stanford Jennings.

Sheridan, who also served as Furman’s athletics director from 1983-85, was the first player or coach from Furman to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Sheridan’s success followed him to N.C. State, where he helped spark a turnaround as the coach from 1986-92. 

Prior to his arrival, the Wolfpack had posted three consecutive 3-8 seasons. During his first year in Raleigh, Sheridan would be named the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and ACC Coach of the Year after leading NC State to an 8-3-1 record, a second-place finish in the conference and a berth in the Peach Bowl.

He would guide the Wolfpack to five more bowl games, including wins in the 1988 Peach Bowl and 1990 All-American Bowl, as well as national rankings in 1991 (No. 24) and 1992 (No. 17).

Boasting a winning record in all but one of his seven seasons at NC State, he would finish with the second-most wins in school history (52) while coaching four All-Americans and 31 all-conference players.

A native of Augusta, Ga., Sheridan graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1964. He began his coaching career at the high school level, compiling a 37-8-1 record and leading Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School to a South Carolina state title in 1971.

Two years later, Sheridan joined the staff at Furman as an assistant before becoming head coach in 1978. He is a member of the Furman Athletic, South Carolina Athletic, and South Carolina Football Halls of Fame.

A memorial service is planned for July 15 in North Augusta, S.C., with details to be announced.