Dick Ramsey loves the game of football and the history that goes along with it. If you reach his voice mail, you will hear the famous call of Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers’ famous punt return against Oklahoma in 1971. “Man, woman and child, he’s is gone,” the announcer, says on his voice mail, “and coach Ramsey is also gone,” Ramsey says.
Ramsey, who is retired and lives in Dawson, this past fall was inducted into the North Iowa Area Community College Hall of Fame for his most vital role in turning the NIACC football program into a perennial winner during his 17 years as head football coach. From 1986 to 2002, Ramsey’s teams compiled an impressive record of 110-58-1, posted just three losing seasons and traveled to seven bowl games, capturing Cola Bowl Championships in 1990, 1993 and 1998. He currently is among the top 50 winningest National Junior College Athletic Association coaches of all-time, both in terms of victories (110, 31st) and winning percentage (.651, 32nd).
“When I left in April of 2003, NIACC had the fifth highest active winning percentage in the NJACC,” Ramsey said during his Hall of Fame induction address in Mason City, IA, which is located two miles north of Des Moines and less than an hour from the Iowa-Minnesota border. “I’m pretty proud of that.”
His 1993 team, even though it featured future UNO standout wide receiver and eventual Arizona Cardinal MarTay Jenkins, averaged an NJACC-best 342.6 rushing yards per game.
In addition to Jenkins, Ramsey recruited and coached future NFL players Shawn Harper (Indianapolis Colts) and Paris Johnson (Carolina Panthers).
Lynn Huber, one of Ramsey’s former players and later one of his Trojan assistant coaches, had high praise for the coach following the 2001 season, in which NIACC posted a 9-1 regular season record and Ramsey eclipsed 100 coaching wins.
“He’s good with the X’s and O’s,” Huber was quoted in the student newspaper. “He could coach at the next level.”
Huber said the reason he chose to play at NIACC was because of Ramsey’s reputation as a coach and the fact that his teams had good success and Ramsey had great discipline.
“No one will out work Ramsey,” Huber said.
Ramsey’s coach during his playing days at Peru State College, Nebraska Football Hall of Famer Jerry Joy, of Stella, who was in attendance in Mason City in September for the Hall of Fame Induction, called his friend and former player “a great coach and an outstanding person.”
Ramsey did more than just win football games at NIACC. He impacted lives.
“Coach Ramsey stressed academics before athletics,” former NIACC All-American Mark Culver said. “As well as making the right choices socially. NIACC football players were required to get up for breakfast, be in by curfew, got to study table multiple times each week and take academics seriously.”
But win or lose, Ramsey’s favorite game each season was the one against Waldorf College in nearby Forest City. “Let me tell you about Waldorf,” Ramsey said. “I enjoyed playing Waldorf.
“It was always a no non-sense game. Both teams played hard and coached hard. It was quite the rivalry. Some people said the change (Waldorf leaving the junior college ranks) was for the better. I’m not so sure. I really enjoyed that game.”
Unfortunately, NIACC, years after Ramsey’s retirement and prior to the 2009 season, was forced to make a much more dramatic exit, as it cut the proud Trojan football program due to budgetary issues. That saddened it’s most successful coach.
“NIACC football had a wonderful journey,” he said during the Hall of Fame event in Mason City.
After leaving NIACC, Ramsey was back in the coaching ranks for a short while as an assistant coach at Peru.
Now, he’s officially retired and enjoying life as a retiree. He spends his time golfing or riding one of his three motorcycles, though a 2012 motorcycle accident in Canada nearly ended his life. Ramsey was traveling at about 60 miles per hour when a semi-truck turned in front of him.
“I really thought I’d miss it,” Ramsey said, “but I’m enjoying my free time. I enjoy not being on the telephone (recruiting).”
“I like to play golf. I’m a bogey golfer, at best.” During his time as the NIACC football coach from 1986 to 2002, Ramsey and his coaches spent countless hours on the phone-recruiting players from all over the country. So there wasn’t much time for golf.
“But we used to sneak out (to the course) once in awhile,” he said.