John Ralston (American football)
April 26, 1927|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1953–1954||San Lorenzo (CA) HS|
|1978||Philadelphia Eagles (OC)|
|1981||Toronto Argonauts (assistant)|
|1993–1996||San Jose State|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|1979–1980||San Francisco 49ers (VP of admin.)|
|1997–2013||San Jose State (special asst.)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
2 Skyline (1960–1961)|
2 AAWU/Pac-8 (1970–1971)
|Sporting News College Football COY (1970)|
College Football Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 1992 (profile)
John R. Ralston (born April 26, 1927) is a former American football player, coach, and sports executive. He served as the head football coach at Utah State University (1959–1962), Stanford University (1963–1971), and San Jose State University (1993–1996), compiling a career college football record of 97–81–4. Ralston also coached the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL) from 1972 to 1976, amassing a record of 34–33–3, and the Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League (USFL) in 1983 and part of the 1984 season, tallying a mark of 9–12. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1992.
Early life, education, and playing career
Born in Oakland, California, Ralston and his family moved to Norway, Michigan when he was eight years old. Upon graduating from Norway High School in 1944, he went to the University of California, Berkeley and played linebacker there on two Rose Bowl teams before earning his physical education degree in 1951.
Ralston began his coaching career in 1953 at San Lorenzo High School in San Lorenzo, California, just south of Oakland. He subsequently was an assistant coach at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, Ca. in 1954 and 1955. He then spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Cal from 1956–1958.
Ralston turned down the head coaching job at Nebraska in 1962 before he moved to Stanford University in 1963 and helped revive a sagging program. Over nine seasons, Ralston guided the team back to national respectability while building a mark of 55–36–3. In his last two seasons, 1970–1971, Ralston's teams won two Pacific-8 titles and notched back-to-back Rose Bowl victories over Ohio State and Michigan, both of whom were undefeated coming into the Rose Bowl game. Under Ralston's tutelage, Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy in 1970.
In 1972, Ralston departed the San Francisco Bay Area again, this time for the Rocky Mountains and the Denver Broncos. The Broncos continue to struggle under Ralston finishing with a 5–9 record in 1972. In 1973, a year which included the "Orange Monday" game played in front of a prime-time national television audience in which the Broncos came from behind to earn a tie on Jim Turner's 35-yard field goal, Ralston coached the team into first place with a 6–3–2 record. With their first winning season in franchise history under their belt and with the AFC West title on the line, the Broncos season ended with a 21–17 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Ralston was the UPI's choice as AFC Coach of the Year after Denver achieved its first-ever winning season at 7–5–2.
In 1974, Ralston coached the Broncos to a 7–6–1 record for their second consecutive winning season. The 1975 season was one of mediocre play for the Broncos as the team finished with a disappointing 6–8 record, but the following year the team improved and finished with a 9–5 record. However, the record was not good enough qualify the Broncos for the playoffs. Despite the strong showing, Broncos players issued a protest vote of no confidence in their coach and Ralston resigned following the season. In five seasons with the Broncos, Ralston guided the team to winning seasons three times and an overall record of 34–33–3.
After leaving the Broncos, Ralston held several assistant coaching jobs which included the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers, the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, and as a head coach in the USFL with the Oakland Invaders.
Ralston also coached in Europe. He was the head coach of the Dutch Lions, the national football team of the Netherlands. With the Lions, Ralston won the bronze medal in the European Championships in Helsinki, Finland in 1991.
After being inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992, Ralston came out of retirement in 1993 to be head coach at San Jose State University. After the 1996 season, Ralston resigned from the position to become special assistant to athletic director Tom Brennan. Ralston later became special assistant to the football team, where he remained until the 2013 season.
Head coaching record
|Utah State Aggies (Skyline Conference) (1959–1961)|
|1960||Utah State||9–2||6–1||T–1st||L Sun|
|1961||Utah State||9–1–1||5–0–1||T–1st||L Gotham||10||10|
|Utah State Aggies (NCAA College Division independent) (1962)|
|Stanford Indians (Athletic Association of Western Universities) (1963–1967)|
|Stanford Indians (Pacific-8 Conference) (1968–1971)|
|San Jose State Spartans (Big West Conference) (1993–1995)|
|1993||San Jose State||2–9||2–4||T–6th|
|1994||San Jose State||3–8||3–3||T–5th|
|1995||San Jose State||3–8||3–4||T–6th|
|San Jose State Spartans (Western Athletic Conference) (1996)|
|1996||San Jose State||3–9||3–5||T–5th (Pacific)|
|San Jose State:||11–34||11–26|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
| #Rankings from final Coaches Poll. |
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|DEN||1972||5||9||0||.357||3rd in AFC West||-||-||-||-|
|DEN||1973||7||5||2||.583||T–2nd in AFC West||-||-||-||-|
|DEN||1974||7||6||1||.536||2nd in AFC West||-||-||-||-|
|DEN||1975||6||8||0||.429||2nd in AFC West||-||-||-||-|
|DEN||1976||9||5||0||.643||2nd in AFC West||-||-||-||-|
- "Hometown Honors John Ralston". Iron Mountain Daily News. SJSUSpartans.com. 2008-07-30. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
- Associated Press (October 21, 1996). "San Jose State's Ralston calling it quits". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. p. 3B.
- "Staff directory - football". San Jose State Spartans. Archived from the original on February 16, 2014.
- John Ralston at the College Football Hall of Fame
- John Ralston at the College Football Data Warehouse