American Football Wiki
Kent State Golden Flashes football
Current season:
2021 Kent State Golden Flashes
Kent State Golden Flashes.png Kent State Golden Flashes Navy Blue helmet.png
First season 1920
Athletic director Joel Nielsen
Head coach Sean Lewis
2nd year, 9–16 (.360)
Home stadium Dix Stadium
Year built 1969
Stadium capacity 25,319
Stadium surface FieldTurf
Location Kent, Ohio, U.S.
Conference Mid-American (MAC)
Division East
Past conferences Ohio Athletic Conference
All-time history
Kent State Golden Flashes Historical Teams
1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
All-time record 321–500–28 (.395 (as of 2020))
Postseason bowl record 1–3 (.250 (as of 2020))
Conference titles 1
Division titles 1
Rivalries Akron Zips (rivalry)
Bowling Green Falcons (rivalry)
Consensus All-Americans 39
Current uniform
NCAA-MAC-Kent State Golden Flashes uniforms.png
Colors Navy Blue, Gold, and White


Fight song Fight on for KSU
Marching band Marching Golden Flashes
Outfitter Under Armour

The Kent State Golden Flashes football team represents Kent State University located in Kent, Ohio. The Golden Flashes are a member of the NCAA FBS Mid-American Conference and play their home games at Dix Stadium in Kent. The Golden Flashes are currently coached by Sean Lewis.


The first attempt to establish a football team was in 1914, one year after the first classes were held on campus and four years after the school was founded in 1910. The team played two practice games against local high schools, but was discontinued by the athletic board and faculty to focus on basketball season. While there was hope the team would return for the 1915 season, no team was established until 1920.[1] The team played their first game October 30, 1920, against Ashland College, a 6–0 loss under coach Paul Chandler. The first Kent State home football game was held November 6, a 7–0 loss to sister school Bowling Green. The final game of the season was a home game scheduled against St. Ignatius College (Now John Carroll University) of Cleveland, but the game was not played and counted as a forfeit win for Kent.[2][3] The team would not record their first true victory until November 14, 1925, a 7–6 win over West Liberty State College. Outside the forfeited win in 1920, Kent State would fail to score in their first 14 games, posting a record of 0–13–1 before finally putting points on the board in a 7–6 win against West Liberty in 1923. During that streak, Kent State would suffer the worst loss in school history, a 118–0 loss to Baldwin-Wallace College, also in 1923. Following the 7–6 loss to West Liberty, a new shutout streak began which lasted 8 games, in which the Flashes, then known as the "Silver Foxes" went 0–6–2. The streak began with the second most lopsided loss in school history, an 82–0 loss to Slippery Rock. The streak finally ended with a 6–6 tie with the Indiana (PA) Normal School in 1925, the game which preceded Kent State's first true victory. Kent State posted their first winning season in 1928, going 4–2–2.[3]

Kent State joined the Ohio Athletic Conference beginning in the 1931 season, playing in the OAC through the 1950 season except for the 1943–1945 seasons, which were canceled due to American involvement in World War II. Under coach G. Donald Starn, who coached Kent State from 1935–1942, the Flashes would begin to taste success, posting winning seasons in 1938 (6–2), 1940 (8–1), and 1942 (5–3). During their time in the OAC, the Flashes never won a conference title, but did finish second in 1940 with a 4–0 conference record. The team finished third in both 1948 and 1949, going 3–0 and 2–0 respectively in conference play.[3]

In 1946, the program was revived after the conclusion of World War II under head coach Trevor Rees,[4] who would coach the Flashes to their first era of consistent success. During his tenure, which lasted 18 seasons, the Flashes would post winning seasons in all but 5 of them. In 1950, the team opened their first true stadium, Memorial Stadium, by defeating Marietta College 57–0. The next season saw the Golden Flashes join the Mid-American Conference. Rees would guide the team to its first bowl appearance in the 1954 Refrigerator Bowl. Rees coached Kent State from 1946–1963, posting a record of 92–63–5 (.591).[3] Rees retired as Kent State head coach following the 1963 season.[5]

Leo Strang took over for Rees in 1964, and under his tutelage, the Golden Flashes struggled, compiling a 16–21–2 record.[6] Kent State failed to win more than five games under Strang's leadership, and Strang resigned following the 1967 season.[7] Washington University head coach Dave Puddington was hired to replace Strang,[8] and Kent State's struggles continued. The program posted a 9–21 record during Puddington's three seasons,[9] the best of which was a 5–5 campaign in 1969.[10] During the 1969 season, the Flashes also moved into Dix Stadium, which was not fully completed until January 1970. The Puddington tenure was also marked by the Kent State shootings in May 1970, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of university students, killing four and injuring nine.[11] Puddington was fired after the 1970 season.

Darrell Hazell era (2010–2012)

File:Kent State BG 2012.JPG

Kent State players and fans celebrate near the end of the Flashes 31–24 victory over the Falcons at Doyt Perry Stadium that clinched the 2012 MAC East title

Ohio State wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell was hired to replace Martin.[12] Hazell was the first African American head football coach in the history of Kent State football.[13]

In Hazell's first season, 2011, the team had two three-game losing streaks, but also had a five-game winning streak in the latter half of the season. Kent State dropped their first three contests, which included losses at eventual BCS national champion Alabama and Kansas State and a home loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Hazell's first win at Kent State came on September 24, in a 33–25 win over South Alabama at Dix Stadium. The team then dropped their first three MAC games before defeating Bowling Green, which was the start of a five-game winning streak that included a 35–3 win over arch-rival Akron at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field, Kent State's first win in Akron since 2003.[14] The season ended with a 34–16 loss at Temple. The Flashes finished third in the MAC East with a 5–7 record overall and 4–4 in the MAC.[15]

The 2012 season began with a 41–21 win over Towson at Dix Stadium, followed by a 47–14 loss at Kentucky. Following the loss, the Flashes defeated Buffalo at University at Buffalo Stadium and followed that with a come-from-behind 45–43 win over Ball State in Kent. A 31–17 win over Army at Michie Stadium was the first victory for Kent State over a non-conference team on the road since 2007.[16] The winning streak reached six, the longest for Kent State since 1940, after a 35–23 win over undefeated and 18th-ranked Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium. The win was the Flashes' first over a ranked opponent after entering the game 0–22 against ranked teams.[17] The win earned Kent State votes in the October 28, 2012 AP Poll, Coaches' Poll, and the Harris Interactive College Football Poll.[18] The team continued winning, beating Akron in the Battle for the Wagon Wheel game at Dix Stadium, followed by a 48–32 win over the Miami RedHawks at Yager Stadium. The win over Miami set a new team record for consecutive victories in a season at eight and tied the 1973 team for most wins in a season at nine. On November 11, the Flashes were ranked 25th in the weekly AP poll, their first time being ranked since November 5, 1973, when they were ranked 19th for one week.[19]

File:Kent State Ohio 2012.JPG

Kent State vs. Ohio at Dix Stadium in 2012. The Flashes won the game 28–6 to clinch an 8–0 season in MAC play

Kent State clinched their first-ever MAC East Division title and spot in the 2012 MAC Championship Game with a 31–24 win over Bowling Green at Doyt Perry Stadium on November 17.[20] Following the win over Bowling Green, the Flashes rose to No. 23 in the AP poll and entered the Coaches' and Harris polls at No. 25. Kent State was also ranked for the first time in the Bowl Championship Series standings at No. 23.[21] The team climbed as high as 17th in the BCS standings following their regular season-ending win over Ohio at Dix Stadium on November 23, which clinched their first-ever undefeated season in MAC play and set a record for most wins in a season with 11.[22] They were also mentioned as a potential BCS Buster.[23][24] Kent State, however, fell in overtime to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game. Following the loss to NIU, Kent State accepted the invitation to play in the 2013 Bowl. Kent State fell to Arkansas State in the game by a score of 17–13 to finish 11–3 overall.[25]

Darrell Hazell accepted the head coaching position at Purdue on December 5,[26] but Purdue granted Hazell permission to coach Kent State in the bowl game, the first bowl appearance by the Flashes since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl.


Paul Haynes, a Kent State alum who had previously served as defensive coordinator at Arkansas, was hired as Kent State's head football coach on December 18, 2012.[27][28][29] Haynes was the second African American head coach in the history of Kent State football.

In Haynes' first season, the Golden Flashes finished with a 4–8 record.[30] Kent State followed that season with a 2–9 mark in 2014[31] and consecutive 3–9 seasons in 2015 and 2016.[32][33] Haynes was fired after the 2017 season, finishing his tenure with a record of 14–45 overall, 9–30 in conference play.[34]

Sean Lewis became head coach for the 2018 season. The Golden Flashes finished the 2019 season with a record of 7-6, and at the end of the season, the Golden Flashes won their first ever Bowl game, a 51–41 victory over Utah State in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.


Image gallery

Recent season results


Season Coach Record
2022 Sean Lewis
2021 Sean Lewis 7-7
2020 Sean Lewis 3-1


Season Coach Record
2019 Sean Lewis 7-6
2018 Sean Lewis 2-10
2017 Paul Haynes 2-10
2016 Paul Haynes 3-9
2015 Paul Haynes 3-9
2014 Paul Haynes 2-9
2013 Paul Haynes 4-8
2012 Darrell Hazell 11-3
2011 Darrell Hazell 5-7
2010 Doug Martin 5-7


Season Coach Record
2009 Doug Martin 5-7
2008 Doug Martin 4-8
2007 Doug Martin 3-9
2006 Doug Martin 6-6
2005 Doug Martin 1-10
2004 Doug Martin 5-6
2003 Dean Pees 5-7
2002 Dean Pees 3-9
2001 Dean Pees 6-5
2000 Dean Pees 1-10

Notable Alumni


  1. Chestnut Burr,Chestnut Burr. Kent State University (1915). ISBN .
  2. Chestnut Burr,Chestnut Burr pp. 138–140. Kent State University (1921). ISBN .
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Record Book. Kent State University (2012).
  4. Clipped From The Evening Independent pp. 10 (December 14, 1945).
  5. Daily Kent Stater 14 May 1969 — Kent State University.
  6. Leo Strang Coaching Record - College Football at
  7. Daily Kent Stater 22 November 1967 — Kent State University.
  8. Daily Kent Stater 25 September 1968 — Kent State University.
  9. Dave Puddington Coaching Record - College Football at
  10. 1969 Kent State Golden Flashes Schedule and Results - College Football at
  11. Blocks, Starting (May 4, 2010). Kent State massacre recalled by Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, then a Kent football recruit.
  12. Sources: Kent State hires OSU's Hazell as coach (December 20, 2010).
  13. Ohio St. assistant Hazell takes over at Kent St. (December 20, 2010).
  14. R-C Staff. "Kent State dominates Akron to maintain possession of Wagon Wheel", November 13, 2011, p. B1. 
  15. Kent State Golden Flashes Schedule – 2011. (2011).
  16. Staff and wire reports. "Kent State tops Army 31–17", October 14, 2012, p. B1. [dead link]
  17. "Kent State gets first ever win over ranked foe by dropping Rutgers",, October 27, 2012. 
  18. 2012 NCAA Football Rankings – Week 10 (Oct. 28). (October 28, 2012).
  19. Moff, Allen. "Kent State football team ranked in AP poll for first time since 1973", November 12, 2012, p. B1. 
  20. Moff, Allen. "Kent State Wins MAC East Division With Thrilling 31–24 Win Over Bowling Green", November 18, 2012. 
  21. 2012 NCAA Football Rankings – Week 13 (Nov. 18). ESPN (November 18, 2012).
  22. Moff, Allen. "Kent State Completes Best Football Season in School History", November 24, 2012. 
  23. "Top 9 unchanged in BCS standings",, November 25, 2012. 
  24. Barnhart, Tony. "What We Learned: As top of BCS holds, bottom may lead to armageddon",, November 26, 2012. 
  25. Bowl: Kent State Golden Flashes vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves. Side Arm Stats.
  26. Purdue hires Kent State's Hazell as new coach (December 5, 2012).
  27. Flashes Heading to Bowl. Kent State University (December 2, 2012).
  28. Moff, Allen. "Darrell Hazell pulled double-duty for Kent State, Purdue", December 28, 2012. 
  29. Alexander, Elton. "Kent State hires Paul Haynes as football coach", December 17, 2012. 
  30. 2013 Kent State Golden Flashes Schedule and Results - College Football at
  31. 2014 Kent State Golden Flashes Schedule and Results - College Football at
  32. 2015 Kent State Golden Flashes Schedule and Results - College Football at
  33. 2016 Kent State Golden Flashes Schedule and Results - College Football at
  34. Kent State Football to Undergo Change in Leadership.

External Links