Hal Sherbeck, the winningest coach in the history of community college football, has informed the athletic staff at Fullerton College that he plans to retire at the end of the spring semester in May, a source who attended the staff meeting said Tuesday.
Sherbeck, who also has been the college's athletic director the past 31 years, has made no announcement, but it could come as early as next week.
Contacted at his home, Fullerton President Philip Borst said he had no comment on Sherbeck's decision. "I've received nothing in writing of Hal's intentions so I'm not in a position to even comment on the report."
Sherbeck's decision is hardly a surprise. Rumors of his retirement have circulated the past two years, growing stronger last summer. They continued all season, but Sherbeck kept saying he had yet to make a decision.
Even Rancho Santiago Coach Dave Ogas, who played for Sherbeck and is a close friend, was unsure if Sherbeck was retiring when asked recently.
Sherbeck's final season ended on a strong note. The Hornets went 8-3 and were selected to participate in the Potato Shrine Bowl in Bakersfield. This allowed his career to go full circle, in a way. His record at Fullerton is 241-71-8.
Sherbeck's community college coaching career had started on the same field in Memorial Stadium in 1961. But his first game at Bakersfield College was hardly one to remember. Fullerton was pounded, 50-0, by the host Renegades.
His final game was last Dec. 7. Fullerton stunned favored Santa Barbara, 45-13, on a rainy afternoon in the 40th Shrine Potato Bowl.
After the game, there was talk on the field from assistants and supporters that they had "just seen Hal's last game at Fullerton."
But when pressed, Sherbeck said he had not made a decision either way and would take the spring semester to evaluate if he wanted to continue.
At Fullerton, Sherbeck's accomplishments are considerable.
His teams won national championships in 1965, '67 and '83.
Fullerton had a chance at another national title in 1988. The Hornets were the top-ranked team, but lost in the last seconds to third-ranked Bakersfield, 30-24, in front of 18,237 in the Potato Bowl.
Sherbeck's teams won 16 conference titles and about 600 of his players went on to compete at four-year colleges.
His teams also had a streak of 47 games without a defeat from 1964 to 1968. Fullerton had only one losing season under him.
Sherbeck's famed work ethic started when he was a youngster and had to take care of his sick mother as well as the house, while his father was at work. Sherbeck was a football, basketball and baseball standout in Big Sandy, Mont., where he was raised.
He continued on in three sports at Olympic College and then at the University of Montana. Sherbeck worked as a coach at Montana before coming to Fullerton in the summer of 1961 to take the job as football coach.
He had to do part-time yard work to make ends meet before the job started in August. At Fullerton, Sherbeck also became the athletic director when he was hired, and soon after became the division dean of athletics and physical education.
During football season, Sherbeck's days typically started before 6 a.m., when he arrived at school, and ended sometime close to 8 p.m., when he went home.
"I don't have a job," he said on the field after his last game. "I just have a place where I go each day, and I love it."
Hal Sherbeck at Fullerton College
Year W L T Conference Nation* Postseason 1961 6 4 0 Third Unranked Orange Show Bowl (lost) 1962 6 2 1 Third 24th None 1963 3 5 1 Sixth (tie) Unranked None 1964 8 2 0 First Fourth Potato Bowl (won) 1965 10 0 0 First First Junior Rose Bowl (won) 1966 9 0 1 First Third Potato Bowl (won) 1967 12 0 0 First First State playoffs (won) 1968 8 1 0 Second Ninth None 1969 10 2 0 First (tie) Sixth State playoffs (lost final) 1970 11 1 0 First Second State playoffs (lost final) 1971 5 4 0 Third Unranked None 1972 4 4 1 Fourth Unranked None 1973 10 1 0 First Third State playoffs (lost semifinal) 1974 5 3 1 First (tie) Unranked None 1975 7 2 0 Second 19th None 1976 9 2 0 First Sixth Avocado Bowl (won) 1977 10 1 0 First Second Avocado Bowl (lost) 1978 6 4 0 Third (tie) Unranked None 1979 7 3 0 Second 19th None 1980 7 4 0 First (tie) Unranked Avocado Bowl (lost) 1981 9 1 0 First (tie) Fifth None 1982 9 2 0 Second Ninth Pony Bowl (won) 1983 10 0 1 First First Potato Bowl (won) 1984 10 1 0 First Third Pony Bowl (won) 1985 8 3 0 First 27th Pony Bowl (lost) 1986 6 4 0 Second 25th None 1987 5 3 2 Second Unranked None 1988 10 1 0 First Third Potato Bowl (lost) 1989 6 4 0 Fourth Unranked None 1990 7 3 0 Third (tie) 23rd None 1991 8 3 0 Second (tie) 21st Potato Bowl (won)
*--National ranking according to J.C. Grid-Wire