Seattle, WA, United States (4E Sports) – Don James, the winningest football coach in the history of the University of Washington Huskies, has died from the effects of pancreatic cancer.
He was 80.
James had been diagnosed with a malignant pancreatic tumor and was scheduled to begin chemotherapy.
The “Dawgfather” served as the UW football team’s head coach from 1975 through 1992, going to six Rose Bowls and compiling a total record of 153-58-2. The Huskies won a share of 1991 national championship, going 12-0 and defeating Michigan 34-14 in the Rose Bowl.
That team is regarded as the greatest team in Washington history.
James was named the AFCA National Coach of the Year in 1977. He was inducted into the University of Miami Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992, the Husky Hall of Fame in 1994 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
At the time of his retirement in 1993, his 10 bowl-game victories were fourth-most in college history, behind only Paul “Bear” Bryant, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden. The Tyee Center in Husky Stadium, at the time the stadium’s only premium seating area, was then renamed the Don James Center.
Born Dec. 31, 1932, in Massillon, Ohio, James graduated from Massillon Washington High in 1950.
He played quarterback at the University of Miami (Florida), graduating in 1954 with a degree in education and winning the the Phillip Optner Trophy, honoring the senior player with the highest academic average.
He was as an assistant coach at Florida State, Michigan and Colorado, before being named head coach at Kent State in 1971, compiling a 25-19-1 record over his four seasons. He was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 1972, when he led the Golden Flashes to a conference title and their first-ever bowl game appearance .
James is survived by his wife, Carol, who he married in August of 1952. They had three children: Jeff, Jill and Jeni, and 10 grandchildren.