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Former Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney passes away at 83

jim sweeney

Sadly, college football has lost one of its best coaches.

According to multiple outlets, longtime Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney passed away Friday night at the age of 83. His health had been failing in recent months.

Sweeney arrived in Fresno in 1976 after stops at Montana State and Washington State. Following the 1977 season, Sweeney departed Fresno State for a two-year run in the NFL before returning to Bulldogs, where he coached a school-record 144 wins from 1980-1996. He finished his career with 200 wins and was succeeded by another Fresno State great, Pat Hill.

“Most of what our football program has accomplished in recent years was clearly made possible by the path that Coach Sweeney blazed for Fresno State Football throughout his two decades of leadership,” Fresno State’s Athletic director Thomas Boeh said in a statement. “He was a man of vision, toughness and character who led the Bulldogs to new heights and went on to become a national icon. Our deepest condolences go out to June as well as Jim’s entire family. It is our hope that all will find comfort in knowing that Coach Sweeney will be missed by thousands and honored always at Fresno State.”

Certainly, our condolences go to Sweeney’s family during this time.

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5 Responses to “Former Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney passes away at 83”
  1. bunyanj says: Feb 9, 2013 8:04 PM

    Jim Sweeney truly did put Fresno State on the College Football map. He wasn’t afraid to play the the more highly regarded teams from the major conferences and his teams won their share of those games. He also competed and won a significant number of conference games and championships. If he coached in today’s era, his teams would be the “BCS Busters”.

    He left a legacy at Fresno State that Pat Hill was fortunate to inherit and build upon it. Coach Sweeney was the real deal.

  2. pdcooper08 says: Feb 10, 2013 1:14 AM

    Well stated bunyani: He had a legend career working with many outstanding coaches from his days at Wazu and Fresno.

    I have several friends that played for this man back in the 80’s and they all talk about how tough he was. Each one though much thge utmost respect for him as a coach and a man.

    Chris Ault the recently retired HC at Reno kinda reminds me a lot of coach Sweeny. Both where pioneers at what they did, both from smaller schools, each finding ways to get it done. RIP coach

  3. foothillfrank says: Feb 10, 2013 8:45 AM

    Great coach. Also very funny man. When he was at Washington state and John McKay was at USC they were good friends. When they got together they made a very funny duo. RIP coach.

  4. thegamecocker says: Feb 10, 2013 9:10 AM

    RIP Coach Sweeney.

  5. florida727 says: Feb 11, 2013 9:04 AM

    How about “Sweeney Field at Bulldog Stadium”?

    Florida State did something similar to honor Bobby Bowden. Only appropriate to pay tribute to someone that highly thought of and admired by Fresno fans.

    I know in the grand scheme of things this isn’t important, but I love the symmetry of him finishing with exactly 200 wins (instead of 199 or 198 or whatever). It just has a certain ring to it. “Coach Sweeney. 200 wins.”

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