|Cal Poly Mustangs football|
|Athletic director||Don Oberhelman|
|Head coach||Tim Walsh|
11th season, 56-58 (.491)
|Stadium||Alex G. Spanos Stadium|
|Field surface||Natural Grass|
|Location||San Luis Obispo, California|
|Conference||Big Sky Conference|
|Bowl record||0–1 (.000)|
|Claimed nat'l titles||Division II: 1 (1980)|
|Rivalries||UC Davis Aggies|
|Colors||Forest Green, Vegas Gold, and Copper|
|Fight song||Ride High You Mustangs|
|Mascot||Musty the Mustang|
|Marching band||Cal Poly Mustang Band|
The Cal Poly Mustangs are the football team representing California Polytechnic State University located in San Luis Obispo, California. The team plays its home games in Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The current head coach is Tim Walsh, who began his tenure in 2009.
Football was first played on the Cal Poly campus in 1916. At that time, Cal Poly was a vocational school as it did not become a four-year college until 1941.
The California Polytechnic School played mostly high school teams and college freshmen teams for its first 16 seasons. In 1933, Mustangs enjoyed their first undefeated season under coach Howie O'Daniels. During the 1933 campaign, The Mustangs did not allow a single point during that season. Cal Poly officially became a four-year school in 1941 and posted a 5-3-1 record under Coach O'Daniels. Football was put to a halt during World War II ('43 and '44) and resumed in 1945.
Under coach Roy Hughes, Cal Poly experienced its second undefeated season in 1953. In the decade of the 1950s, the Mustangs posted a record of 67-29-1. During this decade, future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, John Madden played for the Green and Gold and was known as a bruising tackle. Upon graduation, Madden was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. Joining Madden on the Cal Poly squad was quarterback and defensive back Bobby Beathard, who would later gain NFL fame as the architect and general manager responsible for building the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers respectively into Super Bowl-winning and contending teams.
Main article: Cal Poly football team C-46 crash
Tragedy struck in 1960 following a game at Bowling Green State University on Saturday, October 29, 1960 when a plane leaving Toledo Airport crashed killing 22 people. This included 16 Mustang football players and the team manager. The next seven seasons produced a 22-45 record. Joe Harper was hired in 1968 and produced a 7-3 and 6-4 season to end the decade.
Under head coach Joe Harper, Cal Poly produced an 8-0-1 record in 1972 and received a trip to the Camellia Bowl to play in the western regional championship game of the NCAA's College Division. They would end up losing to the University of North Dakota. In 1978, The Mustangs would make it to the NCAA Division II playoffs but lost to Winston-Salem State. Each of the ten Mustang football teams in the 1970s posted a winning season.
1980 would be one of the most memorable seasons for the Cal Poly Mustangs as they went on to win the NCAA Division II National Football Championship under coach Joe Harper. Cal Poly defeated Eastern Illinois in the championship game and would finish the season with a 10-3 record that included a win over D-IAA national champion, Boise State. Never before or since has a D-II team defeated the eventual D-IAA national champion and won a D-II national title in the same year.
The winning continued in the 90s and in 1990, coach Lyle Setencich would lead the Mustangs to another playoff appearance before losing in the second round to North Dakota State. In 1994, Cal Poly would make the jump to Division I-AA (now FCS) football with coach Andre Patterson at the helm. The Mustangs would see instant success posting a 7-4 record. In 1997, Larry Welsh took over the program and led the Mustangs to a 10-1 record and a national ranking of 16. However, the team was not extended an invitation to the national playoffs. Larry Welsh would follow that season with 3 3-8 seasons.
In 2001, first-year coach Rich Ellerson led the Mustangs to a 6-5 season. Coach Ellerson would emphasize defense and in 2004, linebacker Jordan Beck won the Buck Buchanan Award for best defensive player of the year in the NCAA Division I Football Championship. During the next two years, Cal Poly would experience another NCAA first as two more players would win the award: Chris Gocong in 2005 and Kyle Shotwell in 2006. In 2005, the Mustangs saw their first FCS playoff berth and a 35-21 win over Montana. 2008 would prove to be another exciting season for the Mustangs as they had one of the most productive offenses in the country. They went on to beat FBS San Diego State as well as experience a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison 36-35. The 2008 Mustangs made the playoffs and but lost a shootout in the first round against Weber State. Wide receiver Ramses Barden was drafted by the New York Giants. After the season, coach Rich Ellerson accepted a coaching offer to become the head coach of the Army Black Knights.
|4||Howie O'Daniels||1933-1941, 1946-1947||11||56-33-6||.621||0|
The Mustangs have appeared in the I-AA/FCS playoffs four times with an overall record of 1-4.
|2008||First Round||Weber State||L 35-49|
|2012||Second Round||Sam Houston State||L 16-18|
|2016||First Round||San Diego||L 21-35|
The Mustangs have appeared in the Division II playoffs three times with an overall record of 4-2. They were National Champions in 1980.
|1978||Quarterfinals||Winston-Salem State||L 10-17|
National Championship Game
|Cal State Northridge
North Dakota State