Longtime University of Washington football coach Don James, affectionately known as “The Dawgfather,” died on Sunday at the age of 80. James built a Hall of Fame coaching career after arriving in Seattle in the mid-1970s as an unknown.
The longtime coach led the UW Huskies to a share of the 1991 national title, earning him the Dawgfather nickname he deserved. He ended his coaching career at Kent State and Washington with a record of 176-78-3.
ESPN reports that James was undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer since late September, but ultimately passed away from the effects of it.
Before his coaching career, Don James played quarterback at Miami and graduated with a degree in education in 1954. He went on to serve in the US Army as a commissioned second lieutenant and took an assistant coaching position at Florida State, Michigan, and Colorado.
He became head coach at Kent State, where he led the team to the Mid-American Conference title in 1972, notes Fox Sports. James joined the Huskies in 1975 and led the school to six Rose Bowl appearances, including the 1991 win, where the team beat Michigan 12-0.
Current UW coach Steve Sakrisian stated of Don James, “His accomplishments as a football coach stand alone, but what made him truly special is the quality of man he was away from the game. The guidance and leadership he instilled into this program and community are still felt today, and will continue to be felt here for a long, long time.”
Along with the Huskies’ Rose Bowl appearances, James helped the team win 22 straight games between the end of the 1990 season an November 1992, before the team finally lost 16-3 at Arizona on November 7. He left the university with a 153-58-2 record, resigning weeks before the 1993 season began.
Despite resigning, James still connected with the Huskies’ program, visiting practices and helping to redesign Husky Stadium. Don James attended the first game at the renovated stadium on August 31 of this year, right before his health took a turn for the worse.
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