Jim Sweeney (coach)

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Jim Sweeney
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1929-09-01)September 1, 1929
Butte, Montana, U.S.
Died February 8, 2013(2013-02-08) (aged 83)
Fresno, California
Alma mater University of Portland, 1951
Playing career
1947-49 Portland
Position(s) End [1]
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1950
1951
1952–1955
1956–1959
1960–1962
1963–1967
1968–1975
1976–1977
1978
1979
1980–1996
Columbia HS (OR) - (ass't)
Butte Central HS (ass't)
Butte Central HS
Flathead HS
Montana State (ass't)
Montana State
Washington State
Fresno State
Oakland - NFL (ass't)
St. Louis - NFL (ass't)
Fresno State
Head coaching record
Overall 201–153–4   (.567)
Bowls 6–3
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
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)[2] 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.

Early years[edit]

Born in Butte, Montana, Sweeney was the youngest of seven children of Will and Kate Sweeney; his father was a hard-rock miner who emigrated from Ireland.[3][4] As a youth in Butte, he was a top pitcher and outfielder in baseball, and graduated from Butte Central Catholic High School in 1947.[5]

Sweeney played college football in Oregon at the University of Portland, and graduated in 1951.[2] 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.[6]

Coaching career[edit]

Following graduation he returned to Montana and was a high school assistant at his alma mater, Butte Central, for a season, He was its head coach from 1952 to 1955, and at Flathead High School in Kalispell from 1956 to 1959.[7] 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.[8] He compiled a 31–20 (.608) record and three Big Sky conference championships in his five seasons with the Bobcats,[9] 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.[10] Stenerud went on to become the only "pure" kicker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[2][11] His salary at MSU in 1967 was $15,000.[7]

After his success in Bozeman, he moved up to the Pac-8 Conference at Washington State in Pullman,[7] where he started with a one-year contract at $20,000 in 1968.[12][13] He had only one winning season and compiled a 26–59–1 (.308) record in eight seasons.[14][15] 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.[16][17] He was promptly hired at Fresno State,[18] 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.[19][20] Sweeney retired from coaching following the 1996 season with 201 wins in 32 seasons.

Personal[edit]

Sweeney was 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.[3][21] His wife and mother of all his children, Lucille (Cile) Carollo Sweeney, was his high school sweetheart from Butte; she died at age 57 in 1988 from an intracranial hemorrhage.[22][23] He later married June Sweeney and they resided in Fresno. Two of his grandsons played for Pac-10 football: Nate Fellner at Washington and Kyle Negrete at USC. Grandson Beau Sweeney played at California before transferring in 2011.

Sweeney died in Fresno in 2013 at age 83.[24] He 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.

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Montana State Bobcats (Big Sky) (1963–1967)[25]
1963 Montana State 6–3 2–1 2nd
1964 Montana State 7–4 3–0 1st W Camellia
1965 Montana State 3–7 1–3 T–4th
1966 Montana State 8–3 4–0 1st L Camellia
1967 Montana State 7–3 4–0 1st
Montana State: 31–20 (.608) 14–4 (.778)
Washington State Cougars (Pacific-8) (1968–1975)
1968 Washington State 3–6–1 1–3–1 7th
1969 Washington State 1–9 0–7 8th
1970 Washington State 1–10 0–7 8th
1971 Washington State 4–7 2–5 7th
1972 Washington State 7–4 4–3 T–3rd
1973 Washington State 5–6 4–3 4th
1974 Washington State 2–9 1–6 7th
1975 Washington State 3–8 0–7 8th
Washington State: 26–59–1 (.308) 12–41–1 (.231)
Fresno State Bulldogs (PCAA) (1976–1977)
1976 Fresno State 6–5* 3–1
1977 Fresno State 9–2 4–0 1st
Fresno State Bulldogs (PCAA/Big West) (1980–1991)
1980 Fresno State 5–6 1–4
1981 Fresno State 5–6 2–3
1982 Fresno State 11–1 6–0 1st W California
1983 Fresno State 6–5 2–4
1984 Fresno State 6–6 3–4
1985 Fresno State 11–0–1 7–0 1st W California 16
1986 Fresno State 9–2 6–1
1987 Fresno State 6–5 4–3
1988 Fresno State 10–2 7–0 1st W California
1989 Fresno State 11–1 7–0 1st W California
1990 Fresno State 8–2–1 5–5–1
1991 Fresno State 10–2 6–1 1st L California
Fresno State Bulldogs (WAC) (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
1994 Fresno State 5–7–1 3–4–1 7th
1995 Fresno State 5–7 2–6 T–7th
1996 Fresno State 4–7 3–5 T–5th (Pacific)
Fresno State: 144–74–3 (.658) 83–45–2 (.646) *Includes forfeit by Louisiana–Lafayette
Total: 201–153–4 (.567)
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Caraher, Pat (November 10, 1968). "Cougar defense keyed on run, not pass". Eugene Register-Guard. p. 3B. 
  2. ^ a b c "Coaching Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 384. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Olderman, Murray (November 7, 1986). "Family affair at Fresno State". Nevada Daily Mail (Nevada, Missouri). NEA. p. 10. 
  4. ^ "Passings: Jim Sweeney". Los Angeles Times. February 10, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ Calcaterra, John (January 6, 1968). "Sweeney showed baseball talent". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 13. 
  6. ^ Uptagrafft, Michael (October 21, 1971). "Sweeney gets coaching honor". The Times-News (Hendersonville, North Carolina). UPI. p. 9. 
  7. ^ a b c "Sweeney new head football coach at Washington State University". Lewiston Morning Tribune. January 6, 1968. p. 9. 
  8. ^ "Sweeney says he'll stay". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. December 14, 1973. p. 21. 
  9. ^ Big Sky Conference Football Media Guide
  10. ^ Putnam, Pat (November 4, 1968). "Big Kick Out Of A Strange Game". Sports Illustrated. CNN. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ "All-Time Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  12. ^ Missildine, Harry (January 6, 1968). "New WSU coach Sweeney faces task with optimism". Spokesman-Review. p. 10. 
  13. ^ "Omen indicates fortune of Cougars may brighten". Spokane Daily Chronicle. January 6, 1968. p. 13. 
  14. ^ Washington State Football Media Guide
  15. ^ Pacific-10 Conference Media Guide
  16. ^ Missildine, Harry (December 1, 1975). "Cougar coach Jim Sweeney resigns". Spokesman-Review. p. 14. 
  17. ^ "Cougar coach Jim Sweeney calls it quits". The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon). Associated Press. December 1, 1975. p. 10. 
  18. ^ "Jim Sweeney named Fresno State coach". The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon). Associated Press. December 10, 1975. p. 12. 
  19. ^ Fresno State Football Media Guide
  20. ^ Western Athletic Conference Football Media Guide
  21. ^ She's the Signal Caller Father, Son Answer To, Washington Post, Wednesday, August 27, 2008; Page J05
  22. ^ "Ex-Cougar coach's wife dies in Fresno". Spokane Chronicle. wire services. May 5, 1988. p. C3. 
  23. ^ Missildine, Harry (May 5, 1988). "Lucille Sweeney; great lady". Idahonian (Moscow, Idaho). p. 9A. 
  24. ^ "Jim Sweeney dies at 83". ESPN. February 9, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Jim Sweeney". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 10, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
?
St. Louis Cardinals Offensive Coordinator
1979
Succeeded by
Harry Gilmer