The football programs at Carson-Newman University and the University of Alabama have nothing in common except that they play the same sport.
Carson-Newman rallied from a 35-27 halftime deficit to earn a 55-35 victory over Tusculum, giving head coach Ken Sparks his 323rd victory at the Division II school in Jefferson City, Tenn. College football historians will note there is something special about reaching the 323-win mark: that’s the same number the Bear finished with.
Sparks moved into a tie for sixth place in all-time victories with perhaps the game’s most iconic coach. Sparks is 323-87-2 in 35 seasons at Carson-Newman. Bryant went 323-85-17 in 37 seasons at Alabama, Texas A&M and Kentucky.
“I told (my players) if anybody wanted to talk about the number of victories that I had, you tell them that I didn’t play a play,” Sparks told the Associated Press.
Sparks now trails only John Gagliardi (489 wins), Eddie Robinson (408), Bobby Bowden (377), Pop Warner (336) and Larry Kehres (332) in the game’s all-time annals.
Far, far down on the all-time list but notable nonetheless is Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Lance Leipold, who earned his 100th win with a 52-3 drubbing of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Leipold is now 100-6 in his eighth season at Whitewater.
“It’s something that will sink in probably further down the road,” Leipold said after the game. “I’m very fortunate for the opportunity to be the head coach at UW-Whitewater. We have players that have played hard and bought into the philosophy, and we have a great group of assistant coaches who we’ve been able to retain. They’ve done an outstanding job.”