Jim Sweeney (coach)
September 1, 1929|
Butte, Montana, U.S.
|Died||February 8, 2013
|Alma mater||University of Portland, 1951|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Columbia HS (OR) - (ass't)
Butte Central HS (ass't)
Butte Central HS
Montana State (ass't)
Oakland - NFL (ass't)
St. Louis - NFL (ass't)
|Head coaching record|
College Football Data Warehouse
|Accomplishments and honors|
3 Big Sky (1964, 1966–1967)
6 PCAA/Big West (1977, 1982, 1985, 1988–1989, 1991)
2 WAC (1992–1993)
Jim Sweeney (September 1, 1929 – February 8, 2013) was an American football coach. He served as the head coach at Montana State University (1963–67), Washington State University (1968–75), and California State University, Fresno (1976–77, 1980–96). Sweeney's 144 wins as the head coach at Fresno State are the most in the history of the program. He compiled a career college football record of 201–153–4.
Born in Butte, Montana, Sweeney was the youngest of seven children of a miner. He played college football at the University of Portland, and graduated in 1951. After his junior year, the school dropped football as an intercollegiate sport, and Sweeney spent his senior season of 1950 as a high school coach at Columbia High School in Portland.
Following graduation he returned to Montana and was a high school assistant at Butte Central for a season, then head coach from 1952 to 1955, and at Flathead High School in Kalispell from 1956 to 1959. Sweeney moved up to the college ranks in 1960 as an assistant coach at Montana State in Bozeman, and was promoted to head coach in 1963. He compiled a 31–20 (.608) record and three Big Sky conference championships in his five seasons with the Bobcats, where one of his starting quarterbacks was Dennis Erickson. At Montana State, Sweeney is credited with convincing Jan Stenerud, a Norwegian on a skiing scholarship, to go out for the football team as a kicker. Stenerud went on to become the only "pure" kicker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After his success in Bozeman, he moved up to the Pac-8 Conference in 1968 at Washington State in Pullman, where he compiled a 26–59–1 (.308) record in eight seasons. His team's most noteworthy accomplishment was the defeat of Rose Bowl-bound Stanford in 1971 to garner him NCAA District 8 Coach of the Year honors. After a disappointing conclusion to the 1975 season (winless in conference), Sweeney resigned at WSU a week after the season ended. He was promptly hired at Fresno State, where he coached for two seasons before becoming an NFL assistant for two years. He spent the 1978 season with the Oakland Raiders in John Madden's final season, and the 1979 season with the St. Louis Cardinals under Bud Wilkinson, who was fired before the season's end. Sweeney returned to Fresno State as head coach in 1980 for 17 seasons and he compiled a 144–74–3 (.658) record and eight conference championships (PCAA/Big West and WAC) in 19 seasons. Sweeney retired from coaching following the 1996 season with 201 wins in 32 seasons.
Head coaching record
|Montana State Bobcats (Big Sky Conference) (1963–1967)|
|1964||Montana State||7–4||3–0||1st||W Camellia|
|1966||Montana State||8–3||4–0||1st||L Camellia|
|Washington State Cougars (Pacific-8 Conference) (1968–1975)|
|Fresno State Bulldogs (Pacific Coast Athletic Conference) (1976–1977)|
|Fresno State Bulldogs (Pacific Coast Athletic Conference/Big West Conference) (1980–1991)|
|1982||Fresno State||11–1||6–0||1st||W California|
|1985||Fresno State||11–0–1||7–0||1st||W California||16|
|1988||Fresno State||10–2||7–0||1st||W California|
|1989||Fresno State||11–1||7–0||1st||W California|
|1991||Fresno State||10–2||6–1||1st||L California|
|Fresno State Bulldogs (Western Athletic Conference) (1992–1996)|
|1992||Fresno State||9–4||6–2||T–1st||W Freedom||22||24|
|1993||Fresno State||8–4||6–2||T–1st||L Aloha|
|1996||Fresno State||4–7||3–5||T–5th (Pacific)|
|Fresno State:||144–74–3||83–45–2||*Includes forfeit by Louisiana–Lafayette|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
Sweeney is the father of 9 children: Jim Sweeney, Peggy Sweeney, Sheila Sweeney, Carol Sweeney, Mary Lou Dion Sweeney, Daniel Sweeney, Colline Sweeney, Patty Negrete Sweeney, and Kevin Sweeney, whom he coached at Fresno State. His wife and mother of all his children, Lucille Sweeney, died in the late 1980s. He has since married June Sweeney and they reside in Fresno. Two of Jim's grandsons play for PAC10 football teams. Nate Fellner is at University of Washington, and Kyle Negrete USC. Grandson Beau Sweeney played at CAL before transferring in 2011.
On February 8, 2013, Fresno State Athletics confirmed that the beloved football coach died shortly before 8pm PT. Coach Sweeney and his wife had recently moved to a senior living home due to his failing health, which included a stay at St. Agnes Medical Center. Sweeney was 83.
- Caraher, Pat (November 10, 1968). "Cougar defense keyed on run, not pass". Eugene Register-Guard. p. 3B.
- "Coaching Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 384. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- "Passings: Jim Sweeney". Los Angeles Times. February 10, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Uptagrafft, Michael (October 21, 1971). "Sweeney gets coaching honor". The Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina). UPI. p. 9.
- "Sweeney new head football coach at Washington State University". Lewiston Morning Tribune. January 6, 1968. p. 9.
- "Sweeney says he'll stay". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. December 14, 1973. p. 21.
- Big Sky Conference Football Media Guide
- Putnam, Pat (November 4, 1968). "Big Kick Out Of A Strange Game". Sports Illustrated. CNN. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- "All-Time Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Washington State Football Media Guide
- Pacific-10 Conference Media Guide
- Missildine, Harry (December 1, 1975). "Cougar coach Jim Sweeney resigns". Spokesman-Review. p. 14.
- "Cougar coach Jim Sweeney calls it quits". The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon). Associated Press. December 1, 1975. p. 10.
- "Jim Sweeney named Fresno State coach". The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon). Associated Press. December 10, 1975. p. 12.
- Fresno State Football Media Guide
- Western Athletic Conference Football Media Guide
- "Jim Sweeney". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- She's the Signal Caller Father, Son Answer To, Washington Post, Wednesday, August 27, 2008; Page J05
- Washington State.scout.com - The Smilin' Irishman - Jim Sweeney
- Washington State.scout.com - Remember Rogers Field
- Jim Sweeney at Find a Grave
|St. Louis Cardinals Offensive Coordinator