WILLIAMSTOWN - A coach with a rich pedigree returns to his alma mater as Williamstown High School serves as the host site for today's Mid-Ohio Valley Football Camp.
Joe Fincham, who was a two-way lineman for the Yellowjackets in the early 1980s and later became a three-year starter for the Bobcats from Ohio University, will join a handful of instructors for the one-day event designed for boys entering grades 3-8. Also providing their expertise are West Liberty University associate head coach Brad Forshey, Williamstown head coach Terry Smith and former Williamstown and Parkersburg high head coach Bernie Buttrey.
"In a word, this is exciting," Fincham said. "I have a great role. I just show up and do what I'm told for a day."
Since becoming the head coach at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio 16 years ago, Fincham has continued the tradition established by his predecessors - National College Football Hall of Famers Bill Edwards and Dave Mauer, Ron Murphy and Doug Neibuhr - and won a school record 144 games while leading the Tigers to eight North Coast Athletic Conference championships.
"I look at my success this way - if you are at a place for a long time and work hard, wins will take care of themselves," Fincham said. "While it is nice to look back as the program's winningest coach, there's another thing you have to look at. I'm also the second-losingest coach. That puts it in perspective."
After serving as a graduate assistant with Ohio from 1987-89, Fincham joined the coaching staff at Urbana (Ohio) University as an offensive coordinator for two seasons. While at Urbana, a friend who was an assistant at Wittenberg encouraged Fincham to interview for the position he was vacating.
Fincham admitted he wasn't the No. 1 choice for the job. As it turned out, Wittenberg's original choice turned down the position as offensive line coach/offensive coordinator and Fincham accepted. Six years later in 1996, he was the ideal hire to replace Neibuhr.
"The first thing I look at in terms of our success is our administration," Fincham said. "I don't care how gifted a coach is, if you don't have support from above, then you have no chance. I'm also fortunate to have a good, quality coaching staff. All those things add to good players."
Under Fincham's watch, Wittenberg did not lose a conference game for four consecutive years (1998-2001), produced five perfect regular seasons (1998-2000, 2009-10) and advanced to the NCAA Division III postseason eight times. Last season, the Tigers were experiencing a youth movement with their linemen and finished 8-2.
This year, Wittenberg's offense must replace its entire skill positions.
"If we were going to be young or inexperienced at a position, I would choose the skill players because their athleticism can make up for a lack of experience," Fincham said.
Fincham has established his roots in Springfield, where he resides with his wife, Rita, and their three children (Mac, Samantha and Annie). As for returning to Williamstown for today's camp, he figures it's an perfect opportunity to catch up with old friends.
"They've done an unbelievable job with the football program at Williamstown," Fincham said. "When I was there, we were mediocre at best. We won seven games our senior year and we thought we were the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now when they win seven games in a season, they get mad.
"I'm very proud what Terry, his staff and the community has done."