MacPherson coached Syracuse from 1981-90, with a record of 66-46-4, including an undefeated season in 1987 when the Orangemen finished 11-0-1 and tied Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. In 1990, he became head coach of the New England Patriots until his retirement in 1992.
The School of Physical Education offers at least one lecture each year in the series, featuring outstanding coaches from professional, collegiate and international sports. The series began in 2001; previous speakers have been Bo Schembechler and Grant Teaff. The series was established to honor Nehlen, who is serving as an adjunct professor in the School of Physical Education after his retirement from coaching in 2000.