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Richard S. Lyon

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Richard S. Lyon
Biographical details
Born(1924-10-23)October 23, 1924
Elmira Heights, New York
DiedSeptember 23, 1976(1976-09-23) (aged 51)
Troy, New York
Playing career
1942Syracuse (freshman)
c. 1944North Carolina Pre-Flight
Position(s)Quarterback, end
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
c. 1947Springfield (MA) (GA)
1948–1952Clyde HS (NY)
1953–1954Wellsville Central HS (NY)
1967–1972Army (DC)
1948–1953Clyde HS (NY)
1953–1955Wellsville Central HS (NY)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
Head coaching record
Overall53–38 (college football)
39–14–4 (high school football)

Richard Smith "Dick" Lyon (October 23, 1924 – September 23, 1976) was an American football player and coach and athletic administrator. He played college football as a quarterback at Colgate University (1945–1946) and held coaching positions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) (head coach, 1955–1957), Ithaca College (head coach, 1958–1966), and the United States Military Academy (defensive coordinator, 1967–1972). He also served as athletic director at RPI from 1972 until his death in 1976.

Early years and education[edit]

Lyon was born in 1924 in Elmira Heights, New York. He attended Thomas A. Edison High School in Elmira, playing baseball, basketball and football before graduating in 1942.[1]

After graduating from high school, Lyon attended Syracuse University on a full scholarship and played on the freshman football team in 1942.[2] He then entered the United States Navy and was assigned to the V-12 Navy College Training Program at St. Lawrence University. He was a Navy air cadet for two-and-a-half years. He also played football as an end on the North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters football team that also included Otto Graham, Spec Sanders, and Frank Aschenbrenner.[3]

In 1945, after receiving his discharge from the Navy, Lyon enrolled at Colgate University. He played at the quarterback position for the Colgate Raiders football team and was mentored by that school's legendary football coach, Andy Kerr.[3][4] He received his bachelor's degree from Colgate in 1947.[5]

Lyon next enrolled at Springfield College where he was a graduate assistant football coach under Ossie Solem.[3] Lyon received a master's degree in physical education and science from Springfield in 1950.[3][5]

Coaching and administrative career[edit]

Lyon began his coaching career as a high school football and basketball coach in Clyde, New York, from 1948 to 1953. His 1949 and 1950 Clyde football teams were unbeaten.[1] He compiled an overall record of 30–7–3 at Clyde.[4] He also coached football and basketball at Central High School in Wellsville, New York, from 1953 to 1954.[1] At Wellsville, his football teams compiled a 9–6–1 record.[4]

In May 1955, Lyon was hired as the head football coach at RPI in Troy, New York.[6] He held that position for three years compiling records of 1–7 in 1955, 1–6 in 1956, and 2–5 in 1957.[7]

In May 1958, Lyon was hired as the head football coach at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York.[3][8] He was the sixth head football coach at Ithaca College and held the position for nine seasons, from 1958 until 1966.[9] His 1965 team compiled an 8–0 record, the first undefeated season in school history.[10] Lyon's overall record at Ithaca was 49–20.[4] Prior to Lyon's arrival, Ithaca had not finished with a winning record in seven years. During Lyon's tenure as head coach, the team never had a losing record.[4]

In February 1967, Lyon was hired by the United States Military Academy to serve as defensive coordinator for the Army Cadets football team.[4] In his first season as defensive coordinator, the 1967 Army Cadets compiled an 8–2 record led by Lyon's defensive unit that ranked seventh nationally out of 118 teams in scoring defense.[11] He remained a member of Army's coaching staff through the 1972 season.[12] Army's defensive performance declined in Lyon's later years with the program, ranking 96th in scoring defense in 1970,[13] 64th in 1971,[14] 113th in 1972.[15]

Following the 1972 football season, Lyon left Army and returned to RPI as the school's athletic director.[12] He was also the chairman of RPI's athletic-physical education departments.[16] He remained RPI's athletic director for four years and led the renovation of the Troy Armory into an RPI sports and recreation center.[17][5]

Family and death[edit]

Lyon married Helen Lynch of Springfield, Massachusetts. They had two children, Kathryn and Timothy.[18]

Lyon died in 1976 at age 51 at his home in Elnora, a suburb of Schenectady, New York.[1][19] He suffered a heart attack after jogging.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Edison sports great, Richard Lyon, dies at 51". Star-Gazette. September 24, 1976. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. "Dick Lyon Named RPI Grid Coach". Star-Gazette. May 10, 1955. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Lyon Named New IC Football Coach". The Ithaca Journal. May 20, 1958. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "Dick Lyon Leaves Ithaca for West Point". The Ithaca Journal. February 15, 1967. p. 22 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Richard Lyon, RPI athletic director, dies". The Berkshire Eagle. September 27, 1976. p. 31 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. "Lyon Grid Coach". Wilmington Morning News. May 11, 1955. p. 42 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. "Richard S. "Dick" Lyon Records by Year". College Football Data Warehouse. David DeLassus. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  8. "Lyon Named Ithaca Coach". The New York Times. May 20, 1958.
  9. DeLassus, David. "Ithaca Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  10. "Ithaca's 1st Perfect Slate". The Sunday Press (Binghamton, NY). November 7, 1965. p. 4D – via Newspapers.com.
  11. "1967 Army Black Knights Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Lyon takes RPI post". Wellsville Daily Reporter. November 21, 1972. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. "1970 Army Black Knights Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  14. "1971 Army Black Knights Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  15. "1972 Army Black Knights Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  16. "Dick Lyon Returns To RPI As Athletic, Phys Ed Boss". The Troy Record. November 21, 1972. p. 20 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Richard Lyon, 51, Dies". The New York Times. September 25, 1976.
  18. "Lyon Leaves Ithaca College To Coach Army's Defense". Star-Gazette (Elmira, NY). February 16, 1967. p. 25 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. "Dick Lyon Dies at 51". The Evening News. September 25, 1976. p. 10A.

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