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Fisher DeBerry, Bobby Johnson to coach at Medal of Honor Bowl

Published: Dec. 2, 2014 at 9:50 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC - Willie Jeffries, head coach of the 2nd Annual Medal of Honor Bowl's American Team, has announced that two former major college head coaches will assist him.

Former Air Force Academy head coach Fisher DeBerry and Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson will join Jeffries' defensive staff. DeBerry will guide the defensive linemen and Johnson will handle the defensive backs and special teams. DeBerry and Johnson coached in the inaugural game in 2014.

Jeffries previously announced that former VMI head coach Cal McCombs, will serve as the defensive coordinator. McCombs doubles as the bowl game's director of player personnel.

Set for 2:30 pm on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium, the Medal of Honor Bowl is a premier all-star game the features the nation's top draft-eligible college football players as projected for the NFL Draft. The game honors the Medal of Honor recipients and the game's beneficiaries, the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, disabled veterans and wounded warriors.

DeBerry, a native of Cheraw who earned letters in four sports while at Wofford, served as the head football coach at the Air Force Academy from 1984 to 2006, and compiled a record of 169–109–1. He led 17 of his 23 Falcons squads to winning records and 12 captured a bowl game bid. Three times his teams won the Western Athletic Conference title, in 1985, 1995, and 1998, and retired with the most wins and highest winning percentage (.608) in Air Force football history.

After the 1985 season in which the Falcons finished 12-1 and captured the Bluebonnet Bowl, DeBerry received the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award as the NCAA's college football's coach of the year. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame as a coach in 2011.

DeBerry has also been awarded the State Farm Coach of Distinction award in 2001, and was enshrined in the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2003, he received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Wofford, his alma mater, where he played flanker, defensive back and linebacker, and graduated in 1960.

Active in the American Football Coaches Association, where he served as president in 1996, DeBerry served on the AFCA's ethics committee.

Johnson most recently was the head football coach at Vanderbilt University, a position he held from the 2002 season until his retirement in 2010. In December 2001, Johnson became the Commodores' head coach after leading Furman University to the Division I-AA national championship game. He coached the Paladins from 1994–2001 and led the team to a 60–36 overall record during his eight years. Prior to his hiring at Furman, Johnson was the defensive coordinator at Clemson.

In 2008, Johnson led Vanderbilt to its first winning season since 1982, as his team went 7–6 with a 16–14 win over Boston College in the Music City Bowl, Vanderbilt's first bowl victory since 1955 and only their second in school history. That season Johnson was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year sharing that honor with Nick Saban of Alabama and Houston Nutt of Ole Miss.

His tenure at Vanderbilt was lauded for bringing a resurgence to a team that had long been dominated by its fellow members of the SEC, notably guiding the Commodores to their first bowl game win in 53 years and snapping a 22-game losing streak to rival Tennessee.

Johnson graduated from Clemson in 1973, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in management, before earning his master's degree in education from Furman in 1979.