pcloudyn.png
Tuesday July 7th, 2020 9:17PM

Johnny Majors, former Tennessee and Pitt coach, dies at 85

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Majors, the coach of Pittsburgh’s 1976 national championship team and a former coach and star player at Tennessee, died Wednesday. He was 85.

Majors died at his home in Knoxville, according to his wife, Mary Lynn Majors. “He spent his last hours doing something he dearly loved: looking out over his cherished Tennessee River,” she said in a statement first given to Sports Radio WNML.

Majors compiled a 185-137-10 record in 29 seasons as a head coach at Iowa State (1968-72), Pitt (1973-76, 1993-96) and Tennessee (1977-92). That followed a standout playing career at Tennessee during which he finished second to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in the 1956 Heisman Trophy balloting.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Tennessee retired Majors’ No. 45 jersey in 2012.

“Dynamic on the field. Fierce on the sidelines. Distinguished Tennessean,” Tennessee's football program tweeted. “We mourn the loss of legendary player and coach Johnny Majors — a man who left an indelible mark on Tennessee Football.”

Majors starred for the Volunteers from 1954-56 as a single-wing tailback and punter and twice was named the Southeastern Conference player of the year. He went on to a successful coaching career and had his greatest year in 1976, when he led Pittsburgh to a national championship with a team featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett.

“He was more than just an integral part of my college football career; he was a dear friend who continued his relationship with me far beyond my playing days,” Dorsett said in a statement. "He took a young high school kid and showed him how to be a leader and a man. My prayers are with his family, the Pitt community and all the players and coaches who have been a part of his life. Rest in heaven, Coach.”

During the 1956 season, Majors rushed for seven touchdowns, threw five TD passes and punted and returned kicks while leading Tennessee to a 10-1 record and Sugar Bowl appearance. He finished his Vols playing career with 1,622 yards rushing and 1,135 yards passing.

He proved even more successful in the coaching ranks, where his coaching tree included Jimmy Johnson and Jackie Sherrill on his first staff at Iowa State. Majors gave Jon Gruden, currently coach of the NFL's Raiders, his first job as a graduate assistant at Tennessee. Gruden said Majors taught him what football is all about.

“He preached that loyalty and hard work are the staples to your success," Gruden said in a statement. "The amount of players he touched over several decades is endless. He was a heck of a football coach, a great competitor and truly embodied what Tennessee football is all about. We lost a great, great man, and I will miss him dearly.”

Majors began his head coaching career in 1968 at Iowa State. Three years later, he led the Cyclones to their first bowl bid in school history. He posted a 24-30-1 record at Iowa State from 1968-72 before Pitt hired him away.

“He led us to our greatest glory and changed Pitt forever,” Pitt’s football program tweeted. “Thank you, Coach. Rest in peace.”

The Panthers were coming off a 1-10 season when he took over and had won a total of 23 games in the nine years preceding his arrival. Majors went 33-13-1 in four years there and led Pitt to a 12-0 record in 1976.

“It was a team without a real weakness, one of the greatest college teams of the last two decades,” Majors wrote in his 1986 book “You Can Go Home Again.” “I realized even then that I was a very fortunate man. Few people in our profession ever have the experience of working with a team that good.”

After that title-winning season, Majors returned to his alma mater to take over Tennessee’s program. In his book, Majors said that “it was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make.”

Majors went 116-62-8 at Tennessee from 1977-92 and led the Volunteers to SEC championships in 1985, 1989 and 1990. Tennessee earned a bowl bid in 11 of his last 12 seasons on the job.

Majors missed the first three games of the 1992 season while recovering from heart bypass surgery. The Vols, coached by offensive coordinator Phillip Fulmer, got off to a 3-0 start. Majors returned for the fourth game, but he was forced out and replaced by Fulmer after Tennessee finished the regular season with an 8-3 record.

“He gave many of us coaches our start in big-time college football,” said Fulmer, now Tennessee's athletic director. “He mentored us, pushed us and allowed us to be part of the proud resurgence of Tennessee football.”

Majors returned to Pitt the following year and went 12-32 as the Panthers’ coach from 1993-96.

Majors was born in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and grew up there and in nearby Huntland. His father, Shirley Majors, was a longtime football coach at the University of the South in Sewanee.

The younger Majors was an assistant coach at Mississippi State and Arkansas before becoming a head coach.

His death came two days after that of former Auburn coach Pat Dye, who died Monday at the age of 80. Majors went 4-5-2 against Dye, including a 38-20 upset of then-No. 1 Auburn with Bo Jackson in 1985 when Majors was the SEC coach of the year.

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Local/State News, Death / Obits News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, College Sports, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News, AP Sports - College Football
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Johnny Majors, former Tennessee and Pitt coach, dies at 85
College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Majors, the coach of Pittsburgh’s 1976 national championship team and a former coach and star player at Tennessee, has died
11:37AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Tropical Storm Cristobal makes landfall on Mexico Gulf coast
Tropical Storm Cristobal has made landfall on Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Campeche, dumping heavy rain on the already soaked region
11:30AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Parrish: Arrests made in torching of police SUV
Gainesville police have made several arrests in connection with the torching of a police vehicle Monday at an officer's house.
9:48AM ( 2 hours ago )
Local/State News
Former Auburn football coach Pat Dye dies at 80
Former Auburn football coach Pat Dye has died at the age of 80
3:35PM ( 1 day ago )
Column: Remembering an old family friend, Biff Pocoroba
Ahh, that name
8:55AM ( 6 days ago )
Evangelist who built global ministry dies in Atlanta at 74
Evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who built an international ministry that strives to defend Christianity on intellectual grounds, has died in Georgia
5:11PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Death / Obits News
Tourist towns balance fear, survival in make-or-break summer
As the coronavirus raced across America, the quaint seaside town of Cannon Beach, Oregon, shooed away the tourists it depends on
11:58AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Thousands in London decry racial injustice, police violence
Thousands of people are demonstrating in London against police violence and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd in the United States
11:53AM ( 17 minutes ago )
AP source: NBA presents players with plan for season restart
A person with knowledge of the situation says the NBA has told the National Basketball Players Association that it will present a 22-team plan for restarting the season to the league’s board of governors on Thursday
11:45AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Germany won't punish players for George Floyd protests
The German soccer federation will not punish players who protest against the killing of George Floyd and racism
10:15AM ( 1 hour ago )
Friends mourn ex-Indiana football player slain during unrest
To those who knew former Indiana University football player Chris Beaty, it was no surprise that he would participate in a protest over the death of George Floyd
7:39AM ( 4 hours ago )
F1 says racing will continue if driver tests positive
Formula One CEO Chase Carey says races won’t be canceled if a driver tests positive for the coronavirus or if a team withdraws
5:53AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Sports
Broncos stop football to talk about race relations, Floyd
The Denver Broncos took a break from their usual videoconference football sessions Tuesday to talk about the nationwide demonstrations that were sparked by George Floyd's death in Minneapolis
2:30AM ( 9 hours ago )
Clemson assistant Pearman apologizes for using racial slur
Clemson assistant Danny Pearman said he made a “grave mistake” when repeating a racial slur to ex-tight end D
12:43AM ( 11 hours ago )
NFL tells teams they must hold training camps at home
All 32 NFL teams have been told by Commissioner Roger Goodell to hold training camps at their home facilities this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic
9:46PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Online Football
The Latest: Bowling Green saves baseball program after cut
Bowling Green has saved its baseball program, which had been cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic
5:31PM ( 18 hours ago )
Restaurant owner, ex-college athlete among victims of unrest
Several people have been killed during protests seeking justice for George Floyd, a black man died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck
2:57PM ( 21 hours ago )
The Latest: South Carolina hoops coach Martin had virus
South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin says he has recovered from a case of COVID-19
2:34PM ( 21 hours ago )
College Sports
Lea Michele apologizes for being 'difficult' on 'Glee' set
Former “Glee” star Lea Michele has apologized for being “unnecessarily difficult” on the set of the musical TV show after a co-star accused Michele of making her time there “a living hell.”
9:46AM ( 2 hours ago )
In COVID-19 darkness, gift of a `Moment of Light' to museum
If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, the Rijksmuseum would likely always have to do without a classic Dutch 16th century painting it so badly craved
3:34AM ( 8 hours ago )
John Prine's wife urges Tennessee to expand absentee voting
The wife of singer-songwriter John Prine, who died from complications of COVID-19, is urging lawmakers to expand absentee voting so Tennesseans would not have to put their health at risk exercising their right to vote
11:29PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Hoops Hall mulls date for Bryant, Class of 2020 induction
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is considering new dates for the induction of its star-studded Class of 2020
4:20PM ( 19 hours ago )
Former tennis star still shaken by encounter with cop in '15
In the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, former tennis star James Blake says it's sad to see the type of policing that is still going on in America
4:08PM ( 20 hours ago )
'We won't tolerate': Sports world unites behind Floyd
Sports stars around the world dismayed by the death of George Floyd and inspired by the actions of Colin Kaepernick have come together in support of those seeking change in the United States
12:02PM ( 1 day ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
College Football Hall of Fame damaged in Atlanta protests
The College Football Hall of Fame is boarded up and assessing damage from a destructive night of protests in downtown Atlanta
5:08PM ( 2 days ago )
Big 12 revenue distribution down only slightly amid pandemic
Big 12 schools still got a strong payout from the conference during the pandemic
7:11PM ( 4 days ago )
NCAA offers guidance for bringing athletes back to campus
The NCAA has released a long and detailed plan to help schools bring athletes back to campus during the pandemic
6:50PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Sports - College Football
Tropical Storm Cristobal makes landfall on Mexico Gulf coast
Tropical Storm Cristobal has made landfall on Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Campeche, dumping heavy rain on the already soaked region
11:30AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Parrish: Arrests made in torching of police SUV
Gainesville police have made several arrests in connection with the torching of a police vehicle Monday at an officer's house.
9:48AM ( 2 hours ago )
Incumbent, 2 challengers to face off in Republican primary for House District 103 seat
Three candidates are vying to claim the title as the Republican candidate in the race to claim the State Representative title for House District 103, including the incumbent, Timothy Barr, former Marine Derrick McCollum, and political science grad Donald Schmidt.
7:30AM ( 4 hours ago )
Global shares rise as Wall Street gains for 3rd straight day
Global shares are rising after Wall Street extended its gains for a third straight day, driven by optimism over economies reopening from shutdowns to stem the coronavirus pandemic
5:04AM ( 7 hours ago )
Trump says GOP is pulling convention from North Carolina
President Donald Trump says he is seeking a new state to host the Republican National Convention after North Carolina refused to guarantee the event could be held in Charlotte without restrictions because of ongoing concerns over the coronavirus
12:46AM ( 11 hours ago )