Don James (American football)

Don James

James in 2013
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1932-12-31)December 31, 1932
Massillon, Ohio
Died October 20, 2013(2013-10-20) (aged 80)
Kirkland, Washington
Playing career
1951–1953 Miami (FL)
Position(s) Quarterback, defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1956–1957 Kansas (GA)
1958 Southwest Miami HS (FL)
1959–1961 Florida State (DB)
1962–1965 Florida State (DC)
1966–1967 Michigan (DC)
1968–1970 Colorado (DC)
1971–1974 Kent State
1975–1992 Washington
Head coaching record
Overall 178–76–3 (college)
Bowls 10–5
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (1991)
1 MAC (1972)
6 Pac-8/Pac-10 (1977, 1980–1981, 1990–1992)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1977)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (1991)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1991)
George Munger Award (1991)
Sporting News College Football COY (1991)
MAC Coach of the Year (1972)
3x Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1980, 1990–1991)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1997 (profile)

Donald Earl "Don" James (December 31, 1932 – October 20, 2013) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Kent State University from 1971 to 1974 and at the University of Washington from 1975 to 1992, compiling a career college football record of 178–76–3. His 1991 Washington team won a share of the national championship after completing a 12–0 season with a win over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. James was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1997.

Playing and early coaching career

Born and raised in Massillon, Ohio, James graduated from Massillon High School in 1950. The 2nd youngest of five boys, his oldest brother was Tommy James, a star player on Ohio State's first national championship team in 1942 and a Pro Bowl player in his 10-year NFL career. As a quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes, James set five school passing records. He earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1954 and then was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Army. James then was graduate assistant for the Jayhawks at the University of Kansas under his former high school coach, Chuck Mather, and received a master's degree in education. He coached high school football in Florida at Southwest Miami High School in 1959, then was a college assistant coach for 12 seasons at Florida State, Michigan, and Colorado.

James was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Head coaching career

In 1971, James became the head coach at Kent State in Ohio, where he compiled a 25–19–1 record (.556) in four years. There he coached future NFL great Jack Lambert, current college head coach Nick Saban of Alabama, and former head coach Gary Pinkel of Missouri. During his tenure at Kent, the Golden Flashes won their only Mid-American Conference title, in 1972, and played in their first bowl game, the 1972 Tangerine Bowl.[1]

In December 1974, Don James was hired by University of Washington athletic director Joseph Kearney to succeed Jim Owens as head coach. James served in this capacity for 18 seasons, from 1975 to 1992. He led the Huskies to a national championship in 1991, shared with Miami. James' teams won four Rose Bowls, the Orange Bowl in January 1985, and compiled a record of 10–5 in all bowl games. Overall, James tallied a 153–57–2 mark for a winning percentage of .722 at Washington,[2] including a then-record 98 wins in Pacific-10 Conference play. Washington won 22 consecutive games from 1990 to 1992.[3]

During the 1992 season, it was revealed that several Huskies players had received improper benefits. Among them, starting quarterback Billy Joe Hobert had received a series of loans totaling $50,000 made by a friend's father-in-law.[4] While this was not an institutional violation (Hobert was deemed ineligible as a result, but the program was not punished), this was the first of a series of investigative reports by the Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times that eventually led to the Pacific-10 Conference and NCAA investigations. These led to charges that Washington exhibited "lack of institutional control" over its handling of recruiting funds for on-campus visits, in which player hosts allegedly kept money or gave it to recruits, and turned in false expense forms (amounts cited in the report were $80). It was also charged that a booster ran a summer jobs program that employed more than 50 Husky athletes since the 1970s that either paid for work that was not performed or were not given enough work to merit their salaries.[5] The Huskies received sanctions from both the NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference, though notably James and the coaching staff were not specifically cited as having broken any rules. James resigned from his head coaching position on August 22, 1993, in protest of what he considered unfair sanctions against his team.[6] James later clarified that he was protesting what he felt was a betrayal by then University President William Gerberding, who, against James' wishes, argued in favor of altering the penalties against the program from a two-year TV revenue ban and one-year bowl ban, to a one-year TV revenue ban and two-year bowl ban.[7]

James won national college coach of the year honors in 1977, 1984, and 1991. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.


James died of pancreatic cancer at his Kirkland residence in 2013 at age 80.[8][9][10]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Kent State Golden Flashes (Mid-American Conference) (1971–1974)
1971 Kent State 3–8 0–5 6th
1972 Kent State 6–5–1 4–1 1st L Tangerine
1973 Kent State 9–2 4–1 2nd
1974 Kent State 7–4 2–3 T–4th
Kent State: 25–19–1 10–10
Washington Huskies (Pacific-8/Pacific-10 Conference) (1975–1992)
1975 Washington 6–5 5–2 T–3rd
1976 Washington 5–6 3–4 T–4th
1977 Washington 8–4 6–1 1st W Rose 9 10
1978 Washington 7–4 6–2 T–2nd
1979 Washington 9–3 5–2 2nd W Sun 11 11
1980 Washington 9–3 6–1 1st L Rose 17 16
1981 Washington 10–2 6–2 1st W Rose 7 10
1982 Washington 10–2 6–2 2nd W Aloha 7 7
1983 Washington 8–4 5–2 2nd L Aloha
1984 Washington 11–1 6–1 2nd W Orange 2 2
1985 Washington 7–5 5–3 T–4th W Freedom
1986 Washington 8–3–1 5–2–1 T–2nd L Sun 17 18
1987 Washington 7–4–1 4–3–1 T–2nd W Independence
1988 Washington 6–5 3–5 T–6th
1989 Washington 8–4 5–3 T–2nd W Freedom 20 23
1990 Washington 10–2 7–1 1st W Rose 5 5
1991 Washington 12–0 8–0 1st W Rose 1 2
1992 Washington 9–3 6–2 T–1st L Rose 10 11
Washington: 153–57–2 97–38–2
Total: 178–76–3
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also

Further reading


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