Mention the word football in Youngstown, Ohio, and Bob Dove's name will usually be one of the first people associated with the sport mentioned. One of the most recognizable names in the Valley, Dove is often referred to as the best football player ever to come out of the area.
In 2000, Dove was honored with then Notre Dame head football coach Bob Davie as the Penguin Club Men of the Year.
In December 2000, Dove earned another honor as he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Foundation's 43rd Annual Awards Dinner. He is the first former player to be chosen by the Honors Review Committee, which reviews players who played more than 50 years ago. The induction ceremony was held in August 2001 at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.
One of only two men to serve under four of the five head Penguin football coaches, Dove has received many honors over the years, both as an athlete/coach and private citizen.
"Dover", as he is so familiarly referred to by his many friends, is a Youngstown native who wanted to return to the town he has loved for over 70 years, becoming a part of the Youngstown State scene in 1969 when named as an assistant football coach under legendary mentor Dwight "Dike" Beede.
When Beede retired in 1972, Ray Dempsey was named to the helm and one of his first appointments was to retain the services of Dove.
When Dempsey left for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League after the 1974 season (he led the Penguins to their very first post-season play-off appearance in 1974), Bill Narduzzi was named to the head job and he too sought to retain the services of Dove, as did current head grid mentor Jim Tressel in 1986.
It all started in the 30's when Dove played with the Duffy Midgets, a team of youngsters from the Fosterville section of Youngstown, sponsored by the late Joe Duffy, a local sports fan who in his own right was one of the area's finest baseball umpires on both sandlot and in organized ball circles.
From the "Midgets" it was on to South High School where he started as an end on the late "Busty" Ashbaugh's 1936-37-38 football teams.
In 1938 he was picked as an end on The Vindicator All-City football team, mainly for his outstanding defensive play.
After finishing high school, Dove entered the University of Notre Dame.
As a gridiron start at Notre Dame, he was picked as an All-America end by the All-America Board which was a group of college coaches from the then 48 states, by the International News Service and by the United Press. He repeated in 1942 on the All-America Board and the United Press teams.
The next two years were spent in military service which included playing with the El Toro Marines, a rugged service team on the West Coast (he was a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve). After World War II, he began his pro career with the Chicago Rockets in the newly formed All-American Football Conference.
In 1948, he joined the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League and played there five years during which the team won two NFL championships.
In 1953, he was traded to the Detroit Lions and played on their 1953 and 1954 championship teams. He retired as an active player in 1955.
He then served as an assistant coach at the University of Detroit from 1955 until 1957, returning to the pro ranks as an assistant coach for the Lions in 1958-59.
When the American Football League was formed in 1960, Dove went from the Lions to the Buffalo Bills where for two years he was responsible for the offensive and defensive lines.
On July 1, 1962, Dove took over at Hiram College as head football coach and assistant professor of physical education.
He came to the Penguins in 1969, the same year that he was selected to the Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame.
"I've had a love affair with the area all my life," Dove added. "I've been fortunate enough to see many people from all walks of life, and quite frankly, none are bonded together as strong as those from our area."
Dover was named as the Penguin Club "Man of the Year" in 1984, and since his retirement, has continued to work with the athletics department in several capacities.
He was named to the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1989.