Willie Jeffries

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Willie Jeffries
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1937-01-04) January 4, 1937 (age 77)
Union, South Carolina
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1973–1978
1979–1983
1984–1988
1989–2001
South Carolina State
Wichita State
Howard
South Carolina State
Head coaching record
Overall 180–132–6 (college)
Bowls 3–4
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
2 Black college national (1976–1977)
7 MEAC (1974–1978, 1987, 1994)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2010 (profile)

Willie E. Jeffries, (born January 4, 1937) is a former American football coach. He served as the head football coach at South Carolina State University for 19 seasons in two stints (1973–1978, 1989–2001), five seasons at Wichita State University (1979–1983), and five seasons at Howard University (1984–1988).

Jeffries was the first African American head coach of a NCAA Division I-A football program at a predominantly white college when he coached Wichita State University starting in 1979. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

Jeffries grew up in South Carolina where he attended segregated school. He started his coaching career in 1960 as an assistant at Barr Street High School in Lancaster, South Carolina. He was given his first head coaching job in Gaffney, South Carolina where he went 64–8–2 in seven seasons.

South Carolina State[edit]

Jeffries's record during his two stints with the South Carolina State Bulldogs football team (1973 to 1978 and 1989 to 2001) includes two black college football national championships, six Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships, several post-season appearances, and numerous coaching awards.[2] Players that Jeffries coached at SCSU include Pro Football Hall of Famers Harry Carson and Donnie Shell as well as Robert Porcher, Orlando Brown, Chartric Darby, Dextor Clinkscale, David Norman, and Anthony Cook.

In 2010, Jeffries was named Head Football Coach Emeritus by the South Carolina State University Board of Trustees. With the new role, Jeffries will also serve as a liaison between the university, its alumni and other constituents and also help market the university. University President Dr. George Cooper said of the elevation to Coach Emeritus, ""Coach Jeffries and his wide appeal to so many of our stakeholders and other constituents provide us a great opportunity to brand and market the University. He can help us frame relationships that will increase support for athletics."

SCSU Athletic Director Charlene Johnson added, "Coach Jeffries is truly admired by so many. Not just for his achievements in athletics, but also for his humanitarian contributions to this community, this state and society. He has used football and his great personal skills to bring about better community relations in Orangeburg, the Palmetto State and beyond and I think it's very fitting that the university has bestowed this honor upon him."[3]

Wichita State[edit]

When Jeffries took over Wichita State in 1979, he became the first African American head coach of a Division I-A football program.[4] He is the only man to coach against both Eddie Robinson (American football coach) of Grambling State University and Bear Bryant of the University of Alabama.

Jeffries was the 32nd head football coach Wichita State and he held that position for five seasons, from 1979 until 1983. His 1982 team's record of 8–3 proved to be the last winning season in Wichita State history as the program was discontinued after the 1986 season. His overall coaching record at Wichita State was 21–32–2. This ranks him third at Wichita State in terms of total wins and 21st at Wichita State in terms of winning percentage.[5]

The players whom Jeffries coached at Wichita State include: Anthony Jones, Jumpy Geathers, and Prince McJunkins.

Howard[edit]

Jeffries coached at Howard University from 1984 to 1988. He led the Howard Bison football team to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in 1987, however, this title was forfeited along with all victories for the season when it was learned that Jeffries had used up to 30 ineligible players on his team.[6] His coaching record at Howard was 21 wins, 32 losses. The Bison players who played under Jeffries who went on to the NFL was tight end Jimmie Johnson, Harvey Reed, Troy Kyles, Derrick Faison, David Westbrook, Sean Vanhorse, Brian Taltoan, Gary Willingham, John Javis, and Tim Watson.

Awards and honors[edit]

On May 5, 1988, the Governor of South Carolina Carroll Campbell presented Coach Jeffries with the Order of the Palmetto.[7] This is the highest civilian honor in the state of South Carolina and is awarded to those citizens who make achievements of statewide impact.

Coach Jeffries was awarded the companion honor of the Order of the Silver Crescent by Governor Jim Hodges on October 13, 2001.[8] This is awarded to those who make community or professional accomplishments of local significance.

On June 20, 2009, Coach Jeffries was inducted into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame for his color barrier breaking run as head coach of Wichita State.[9]

Jeffries was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in the enshrinement ceremonies in South Bend, Indiana on July 16–17, 2010.[10]

The South Carolina State Board of Trustees voted to name the football field in Oliver C. Dawson Stadium after Jeffries. Willie E. Jeffries Field was unveiled during halftime of the November 5, 2010 Howard at South Carolina State football game. The halftime festivities included an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute sponsored by The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. NFF representative Hillary Jeffries (no relation) presented Coach Jeffries with a plaque as part of Willie Jeffries day in Orangeburg, SC.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Jeffries has been a friend of Herman Boone dating back to when the two were assistant coaches in North Carolina. Boone wrote a letter of recommendation in support of Jeffries' induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. In it, Boone wrote, "Without his leadership and example, there would not have been Remember the Titans or the advancement in race relations in sports that we have witnessed."

Head coaching record[edit]

College[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
South Carolina State Bulldogs (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) (1973–1978)
1973 South Carolina State 7–3–1 4–1–1 2nd
1974 South Carolina State 8–4 5–1 1st L Pelican
1975 South Carolina State 8–2–1 5–1 T–1st L Pelican
1976 South Carolina State 10–1 5–1 T–1st W Bicentennial
1977 South Carolina State 9–1–1 6–0 1st W Gold
1978 South Carolina State 8–2–1 5–0–1 4th
Wichita State Shockers (Missouri Valley Conference) (1979–1983)
1979 Wichita State 1–10 1–5 T–5th
1980 Wichita State 5–5–1 4–1–1 2nd
1981 Wichita State 4–6–1 3–3–1 T–5th
1982 Wichita State 8–3 4–1 T–2nd
1983 Wichita State 3–8 3–3 T–4th
Wichita State: 21–32–2 15–13–2
Howard Bison (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) (1984–1988)
1984 Howard 2–8 0–4 5th
1985 Howard 4–7 0–4 5th
1986 Howard 9–3 3–2 T–2nd
1987 Howard 9–1 5–0 1st
1988 Howard 7–4 3–3 T–4th
Howard: 31–23 11–13
South Carolina State Bulldogs (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) (1989–2001)
1989 South Carolina State 5–6 3–3 T–3rd
1990 South Carolina State 4–6 2–4 5th
1991 South Carolina State 7–4 3–3 T–3rd
1992 South Carolina State 7–4 4–2 T–2nd
1993 South Carolina State 8–4 4–2 2nd L Heritage
1994 South Carolina State 10–2 6–0 1st W Heritage
1995 South Carolina State 6–4 4–2 3rd
1996 South Carolina State 4–6 4–3 T–3rd
1997 South Carolina State 9–3 5–2 T–2nd L Heritage
1998 South Carolina State 5–6 3–5 T–6th
1999 South Carolina State 4–6 2–5 7th
2000 South Carolina State 3–8 2–6 T–7th
2001 South Carolina State 6–5 5–3 T–3rd
South Carolina State: 128–77–4 77–44–2
Total: 180–132–6
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title

References[edit]

External links[edit]