Charlie Cowdrey
Biographical details
Born(1933-11-16)November 16, 1933
Camden Point, Missouri
DiedJanuary 18, 2011(2011-01-18) (aged 77)
Winfield, Kansas
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1957–1965Smithville HS (MO)
1966–1968Fort Scott CC
1969–1976Missouri (assistant)
1977–1980Illinois State
1981Great Bend HS (KS)
1982Drake (offensive backfield)
1983–1991Southwestern (KS)
Head coaching record
Overall81–86–4 (college)

Charles E. Cowdrey (November 16, 1933 – January 18, 2011)[1] was an American football coach. Cowdrey served as a head high school coach for nine years, head coach at Fort Scott Community College for three years, assistant coach at University of Missouri for eight years, head coach at Illinois State University for four years, assistant coach at Drake University for one year, and head coach at Southwestern College for nine years. His overall record as a head coach including high school coaching is 138 wins, 85 losses, 6 ties, and as a college head coach he achieved a record of 81 wins, 86 losses, and 4 ties.[2]

Early life

Cowdrey was born in Camden Point, Missouri, received a bachelor's degree in physical education from Northwest Missouri State University and a master's degree from the University of Missouri.[3][4]

Cowdrey began his career as a coach at Smithville High School from 1957 to 1966. He then at Fort Scott Community College from 1966 to 1969 and then was an assistant coach the University of Missouri from 1969 to 1977.[4]

Coaching career

Illinois State

Cowdrey was the 16th head football coach for the Illinois State Redbirds in Normal, Illinois and he held that position for four seasons, from 1977 until 1980. His overall coaching record at ISU was 12 wins, 31 losses, and 1 tie. This ranks him 11th at ISU in terms of total wins and 17th at ISU in terms of winning percentage.[5]

Charlie Cowdrey became perhaps the only football coach in NCAA history to be fired less than 24 hours after his team had scored a major upset.[6]

Southwestern College

From 1983 to 1991, he was the 23rd head coach for the Southwestern College Moundbuilders in Winfield, Kansas where he compiled a record of 59 wins and 34 losses with 1 tie, taking over the program from famed football coach Dennis Franchione. He held the position for nine season and became the 7th most successful coach at Southwestern College in terms of winning percentage (65.2%) and second in terms of total number of wins with 59.[7]

Cowdrey took his teams to two separate bowl games, coaching half of the post-season bowls in school history. Both appearances were in the Sunflower Bowl, and the team lost both times.[8] But 1984 was the first year that Southwestern qualified for the NAIA Football National Championship. The first round the team defeated conference rival Bethel 17–14, and then lost to Northwestern College by a score of 45-23.[9]

About being fired from the post, his son Bruce Cowdrey (also a football coach) related this story:

"A long time ago, my dad, Charlie Cowdrey (former Illinois State coach) was coaching Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., when I asked him how he felt about being fired, ... he said, ‘When I came here, the first school president loved me. The second one didn't like football. The third one, he fired the chaplain. So I knew I was next.'"[10]

Morningside College

After Southwestern, Cowdrey became the head coach at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa[11] from 1993 through the 1995 season. His teams at Morningside produce 5 wins, 26 losses, and 2 ties during his three years as head coach.[12]


Cowdrey died on January 18, 2011 at his home in Winfield.[1]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Illinois State Redbirds (NCAA Division I/I-A independent) (1977–1979)
1977 Illinois State 3–7–1
1978 Illinois State 2–9
1979 Illinois State 3–8
Illinois State Redbirds (Missouri Valley Conference) (1980)
1980 Illinois State 4–7 NA NA
Illinois State: 12–31–1
Southwestern Moundbuilders (Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference) (1983–1991)
1983 Southwestern 8–2–1 8–0–1 1st L Sunflower
1984 Southwestern 9–3 8–1 2nd L NAIA Division II Seminfinal
1985 Southwestern 8–3 8–1 1st L Sunflower
1986 Southwestern 7–3 7–2 T–2nd
1987 Southwestern 8–2 8–1 T–1st
1988 Southwestern 6–4 6–3 T–2nd
1989 Southwestern 7–3 7–2 3rd
1990 Southwestern 6–4 6–3 4th
1991 Southwestern 5–5 5–4 T–4th
Southwestern: 64–29–1 63–17–1
Morningside Chiefs (North Central Conference) (1993–1995)
1993 Morningside 2–9 1–8 T–9th
1994 Morningside 3–8 2–7 9th
1995 Morningside 0–9–2 0–8–1 10th
Morningside: 5–26–2 3–23–1
Total: 81–86–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ a b Mitchell, Fred (January 20, 2011). "Former Illinois State football coach Cowdrey dies". Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  2. ^ Fort Scott Community College Athletic Hall of Fame Archived September 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Obituary: Charles E. Cowdrey". Swisher-Taylor & Morris Funeral Home. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "The Winfield Daily Courier > Archives > News > News > Coaching legend Cowdrey fondly remembered". February 4, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  5. ^ Illinois State Coaching Records Archived November 26, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ | Sports | From Pages Past
  7. ^ Southwestern College - Winfield, KS Archived 2007-09-05 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Charlie Cowdrey". College Football Reference. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  9. ^ "Coach: Charlie Cowdrey (1984)". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  10. ^ Eminian, Dave (May 17, 2009). "A Look at the Cowdrey Era". Retrieved January 26, 2011.
  11. ^ Lawrence Journal-World "Southwestern Tabs Cabell" May 14, 1992
  12. ^ College Football Data Warehouse Charlie Cowdrey