UCLA champion football coach Terry Donahue dies at the age of 77
Los Angeles (Associated Press)-Terry Donahue, the most award-winning coach in Pac-12 league and UCLA football history, who later served as the general manager of the NFL San Francisco 49ers, has passed away. He is 77 years old.
The school said he died at his home in Newport Beach on Sunday after fighting cancer for two years.
Donahue has the most wins among all coaches in Pac-12 history (98 games), and is also the coach with the most wins in UCLA history (151 games). In the 1971-75 season, he served as an assistant coach under Pepper Rogers and Dick Vermeer, then took over as the head coach at the age of 31 and served in 1976-95. His first job after graduating from college was as Rogers Assistant in Kansas for a season.
Donahue was the first player, assistant coach and head coach to appear in the Rose Bowl game. During his coaching period, the Bruins won the New Year’s Day competitions in 1983, 1984 and 1986. From 1983 to 1989, he was the first college coach to win bowl games for seven consecutive seasons.
Archie Manning, the president of the National Football Foundation and retired NFL quarterback Payton and Eli Manning’s father, paid tribute to Donahue.
“Coach Donahue is really a great person, it is difficult to express his meaning to the game in words,” Manning said. “His contributions are endless, and his legacy will continue to exist through the countless players and assistant coaches he has directed.”
Terrence Michael Donahue was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks before going to UCLA. In 1965, he joined the football team as a walking defensive winger. He helped the Bruins defeat the previously undefeated and top-ranked Michigan State University in 1966, winning their first Rose Bowl victory in history.
His coaching record at the University of California, Los Angeles is 151.74-8, and his score in the Pac-12 competition is 98-51-5. During Donahue’s tenure, the Bruins have won or shared five league titles. He has coached future Hall of Fame members such as Troy Ekman, Kenny Easley and Jonathan Ogden.
Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Rose Bowl press box was named after him in 2013.
“He represents everything you strive to be as a coach and as a person,” said Chip Kelly, current UCLA football coach. “From the moment I set foot on campus, he was an amazing mentor and one of the most authentic, humble and strongest people I have ever met. He loves UCLA to the best of his ability. I I cannot express the importance of his guidance and friendship to me.”
Manning praised Donahue for hosting the first NFF show in California in 2013, helping high school players get the attention of college coaches. Manning said the program provides approximately $6 million in scholarships for freshmen each year.
After retiring, Donahue worked for CBS, Fox and NFL Internet phone games.
He served as the player personnel director of the 49ers from 1999-2000, and served as the general manager of the team from 2001-05. He rejected the opportunity to coach the Dallas Cowboys, a move that would have allowed him to reunite with Aikman in 1998.
His wife, Andrea, who had been married for 52 years, survived; daughters Nicole, Michel and Jennifer; and 10 grandchildren.