Honoring Coach Gilburg

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The sporting world has applied many titles to Tom Gilburg throughout his long and successful career: All-Star, All-American, National Football League draftee and player, Head Coach, Hall of Famer.

Franklin & Marshall College will soon apply Gilburg’s name to the centerpiece of its new multipurpose stadium. Pending successful completion of fundraising for a new A-Turf playing surface, the College plans to name the field for its former head football coach, whose 160 career victories over 28 seasons remain tops in the program’s storied history.

An offensive and defensive standout for the 1959 national football champion Syracuse University Orangemen, Gilburg was a first-team All-America selection in 1960 and played five years with the NFL’s Baltimore Colts as an offensive tackle and punter, including in the 1964 NFL championship game against the Cleveland Browns.

Also a four-year lacrosse star at Syracuse, Gilburg began his career at F&M during the NFL “offseason” of 1964, coaching men’s lacrosse. He took over Diplomats football in 1974, compiling a 7-2 record in his first season, and remained at the helm until his retirement in 2002. 

His teams won the 1976 Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Southern Division title, two of four Eastern Collegiate Athletic Association (ECAC) bowl games and five Centennial Conference (CC) championships following the conference’s creation in 1983.




During the second week of the 1989 season, the Diplomats rallied from a 14-0 deficit in the final 12 minutes to capture a 15-14 victory at Ursinus on their way to a 10-1 season,
 still the most single-season wins in F&M football history. The victory also marked the 100th of Gilburg’s football coaching career, coming in just 134 games.

Under his tutelage, eight Diplomats became first-team All-Americans. Eleven more were named the conference’s most valuable player, and six earned Academic All-America honors. Remembered among his players for his frequent exhortation toward that extra measure of effort, “It’s time to put the hay in the barn, boys,” Gilburg was inducted into the F&M Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and the MAC Hall of Fame in 2014.

“Coach Gilburg was a great coach and
 mentor. He instilled a sense of tradition
and family for F&M football that is as strong today as it was when we wore the pads,” said Matt DesChamps ’93, who captained the Diplomats’ 1992 team. “And like everyone at F&M, he demanded—and inspired—our best. Coach was the personification of our motto: ‘Well done is better than well said.’ This field will be a fitting tribute to Coach and all he and F&M football stand for, and I know it will inspire the best in Diplomat athletes for years to come."

For more information about Gilburg Field at Shadek Stadium, please contact Katie Crowe Wood, director of athletic advancement, at 717-358-4834 or katie.wood@fandm.edu.