Paul Verbitsky’s (‘94) hands were bleeding as two teammates rammed into him on Crown Field during a particularly strenuous football practice. Verbitsky and his teammates were freezing, covered in mud and exhausted. Their coach, Dick Biddle, supervised their practice, maintaining a great calm.
“[Biddle] had two guys who were fraternity brothers just pound me. They were just crushing me. When we collided, they just killed me,” Verbitsky said. “I got really frustrated. It was the end of the season, and we were not doing well. I had an essay to go write. And I raised my voice to [Biddle]. I said something like, ‘what the heck is going on?’”
Biddle looked at Verbitsky like he was crazy.
Biddle, Verbitsky recalls, then said, “I’m trying to make you a better football player.”
To Verbitsky, this moment was one of many effective and emotional interactions with Biddle throughout his four years on the football team.
“[Biddle] would point-blank tell you you were never going to play. He would say, ‘put yourself in our position, there are three guys that are a foot taller than you, they can run faster than you, and they can tackle better than you – they’re better football players.”
These moments represent the root of Biddle’s character, a character that drove him to massive success at Colgate. Biddle is now regarded as a legendary coach at Colgate.
As Colgate’s head football coach from 1996 through 2013, Biddle compiled a record of 137–73, achieving the most wins in Colgate football history and the highest winning percentage. Biddle, for all his successes, was named Patriot League Coach of the Year five times, first in 1996 and for the last time in 2012.
Recently, Colgate honored Biddle for his great achievements. On Oct. 30, Colgate dedicated Biddle Way, Biddle Plaza and the Dick Biddle Video Board to the legendary coach in a formal ceremony. Biddle Way runs adjacent to Sanford Fieldhouse and opens onto Biddle Plaza, which leads to the Andy Kerr Stadium. In the stadium, the video board now bears Biddle’s name.
Maroon Council Co-Presidents, Anthony Caravetta ’97 and Mark Paske ’94 cut a ribbon to open Biddle Way. After the cutting, Colgate’s football team ran through the way and into the plaza, arriving at Andy Kerr Stadium. They were surrounded by rows of alumni, former players and coaches eager to honor the legendary coach.
Brent Bassham, assistant football coach and offensive coordinator, asserted that the event was meaningful to the players, even though they did not personally know Biddle.
“The kids obviously didn’t know Coach Biddle; they weren’t here when he was here, but it was a really cool experience for them to be a part of,” Bassham said. “They got hyped with the alumni and former players in the tunnel and they ran out in the field.”
At the ceremony, a few individuals spoke, sharing their love and admiration for Biddle. After Vice President and Director of Athletics Nicki Moore opened the ceremony, Head Football Coach Stan Dakosty ‘05, Maroon-Council Co-President Anthony Caravetta ’97, and Dick Biddle’s son, Brendon Biddle ’03, gave speeches.
For Dakosty, speaking at the ceremony was an emotional experience.
“I think before I spoke on Saturday, I was trying to find the words. I took the ten-minute walk down the hill, and I tried to figure out what I could possibly say. I had ideas, but up until I got up on the podium it was intense — intense emotions — though it was perfect because Coach Biddle is an intense guy.”
Dakosty played on Colgate’s football team his freshman and sophomore year. His junior and senior years, he was injured, watching from afar as his friends and teammates rallied together for two successful seasons. However, Biddle opened the doors of the coaches’ office to Dakosty, inviting him to help with film and assist in coaching the team on a small scale.
“Not a lot of coaches do that stuff,” Dakosty said. “Even though I wasn’t playing, [Biddle] kept me around, and allowed me to be a part of the program, so that really meant a lot.”
Coach Biddle was quiet, a characteristic that seemed to add to his intensity, both Verbitsky and Dakosty noted.
“Coaching with [Biddle], I was able to spend some different time with him, to interact with him in different ways off the field that maybe some of the other players didn’t have the chance to,” Dakosty said. “Coach Biddle wasn’t the most outgoing, but to go out of his way and just check-in and work personally with me was definitely impactful.”
Verbitsky wholly understood Dakosty’s emotions surrounding Biddle’s honoring.
“I think it’s hard to not get emotional when speaking about someone who has impacted your life in a positive way, and may not have even seen it or known about it. I hope [Biddle] knows the impact that he had on me, on my life, and the impact he had on every other player that went through here and after him.”
Verbitsky fondly remembers a football banquet where the oft-stoic Biddle expressed his gratitude for his work developing a formal highlight reel for the team.
“Coach Biddle singled me out at one of the banquets, and he said, ‘I want to thank Paul.’ I wasn’t an All-American player and this, that, and the other thing. Just the fact that he would mention me was meaningful.”
Dakosty shared that he thinks the emotions came out in the game against Bucknell, which Colgate won 33-10.
“There were a lot of emotions that day and, with that, our team went out and played in a way Coach Biddle would be proud of – it was a great Colgate day.”