The college football world in general and the coaching fraternity specifically has sadly lost a legend.
In a press release, Washington announced that former Huskies head coach Don James died Sunday morning. The school stated that James died from the effects of pancreatic cancer, for which he had recently been undergoing treatment.
James was 81 years old.
“My family and I are extremely saddened to hear of Coach James’ passing,” current UW head coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement. “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.”
James, who played his college football for the Miami Hurricanes, spent 18 seasons as the Huskies head coach (1975-1992), guiding UW to six conference titles and the 1991 national championship. He finished his Hall of Fame career — he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997 — with a record of 153-58-2 at UW.
Born in Massillon, Ohio, James’ influence goes beyond the immense impact he made at Washington. His coaching tree includes the likes of Nick Saban, Jim Mora (Jr. and Sr.), Gary Pinkel, Dom Capers and many, many others.
Prior to being named UW’s coach, he served as the head coach at Kent State from 1971-74. One of his players during that time was Saban, who has long credited James for sparking his interest in coaching.