Earlier this morning, word broke that former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce had passed away at 87 years old after a battle with Alzheimer’s.
While Bruce’s tenure in Columbus succeeding the legendary Woody Hayes is well known, his head coaching career started with a 10-2 season leading the Tampa Spartans in a season that culminated in a Tangerine Bowl win. From there he went to Iowa State, where he went 4-7 for his first three seasons before winning eight games per season for the next three years to finish with a 36-32 mark leading the Cyclones from 1973-1978.
In 1979, Bruce landed the head coaching job with the Buckeyes, and led the program to a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl appearance in his first season. The years that followed saw six-straight nine-win seasons, a ten-win season in 1986, and a 6-4-1 season in 1987, which turned out to be his last season in Columbus. His time leading the Buckeyes ended with bowl appearances in eight of his nine seasons, five bowl victories, four Big Ten titles, and an overall mark of 81-26-1.
In 1988, Bruce led Northern Iowa for one season to a 5-6 mark and his head coaching career came to a close at Colorado State (1989-1992), where he went 22-24-1 overall.
Over the entirety of his 21-year head coaching career, Bruce went 154-90-2, with just six seasons under .500.
The daughters of coach Bruce released the following statement:
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, coach Earle Bruce, early this morning, Friday, April 20. He was a great man, a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, and a respected coach to many. Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes.
Urban Meyer offered the following via a statement from Ohio State on Bruce’s passing:
“I’ve made it clear many times that, other than my father, Coach Bruce was the most influential man in my life. Every significant decision I’ve made growing up in this profession was with him involved in it. His wife and he were the role models for Shelley and me. They did everything with class. He was not afraid to show how much he loved his family and cared for his family.” ”
Please join us in praying for coach Bruce’s family and those affected by his passing.