Don James (American football)

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Don James
Don James (American football).jpg
James in 2013
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1932-12-31)December 31, 1932
Massillon, Ohio
Died October 20, 2013(2013-10-20) (aged 80)
Kirkland, Washington
Playing career
1951–1953 Miami (FL)
Position(s) Quarterback, defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1956–1957 Kansas (GA)
1958 Southwest Miami HS (FL)
1959–1961 Florida State (DB)
1962–1965 Florida State (DC)
1966–1967 Michigan (DC)
1968–1970 Colorado (DC)
1971–1974 Kent State
1975–1992 Washington
Head coaching record
Overall 178–76–3 (college)
Bowls 10–5
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (1991)
1 MAC (1972)
6 Pac-8/Pac-10 (1977, 1980–1981, 1990–1992)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1977)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (1991)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1991)
George Munger Award (1991)
Sporting News College Football COY (1991)
MAC Coach of the Year (1972)
3x Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1980, 1990–1991)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1997 (profile)

Donald Earl James (December 31, 1932 – October 20, 2013) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Kent State University from 1971 to 1974 and at the University of Washington from 1975 to 1992, compiling a career college football record of 178–76–3. His 1991 Washington team won a share of the national championship after completing a 12–0 season with a win over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. James was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1997.

Early years[edit]

James was born in 1932 at his family's home on the outskirts of Massillon, Ohio.[1] He was the fourth of five boys. Four of the five boys played football, and his oldest brother, Tommy James, was a star player on the 1942 Ohio State national championship team who also played professional football from 1947 to 1956.

James attended Massillon Washington High School where he played quarterback for the football team in 1948 and 1949 and graduated in 1950.[1]

College football and military service[edit]

James attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship. He was the quarterback for the 1952 and 1953 Miami Hurricanes football teams. He set Miami single-season records for completions (121), yards (1,363), and completion percentage (56.9%).[2] He earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1954.

He was commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Army.

James was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

Assistant coaching positions[edit]

James was graduate assistant for the Jayhawks at the University of Kansas under his former high school coach, Chuck Mather, and received a master's degree in education. He coached high school football in Florida at Southwest Miami High School in 1959, then was a college assistant coach for 12 seasons at Florida State, Michigan, and Colorado.

Kent State[edit]

In 1971, James became the head coach at Kent State in Ohio, where he compiled a 25–19–1 record (.556) in four years. There he coached future NFL great Jack Lambert, current college head coach Nick Saban of Alabama, and former head coach Gary Pinkel of Missouri. During his tenure at Kent, the Golden Flashes won their only Mid-American Conference title, in 1972, and played in their first bowl game, the 1972 Tangerine Bowl.[4]


In December 1974, Don James was hired by University of Washington (UW) athletic director Joseph Kearney to succeed Jim Owens as head coach of the Washington Huskies football team.

James served in this capacity for 18 seasons, from 1975 to 1992. He led the Huskies to a national championship in 1991. During his tenure at Washington, James' teams won four Rose Bowls, the Orange Bowl in January 1985, and compiled a record of 10–5 in all bowl games. Overall, James tallied a 153–57–2 mark for a winning percentage of .722 at Washington, including a then-record 98 wins in Pacific-10 Conference play. Washington won 22 consecutive games from 1990 to 1992.[5] James won national college coach of the year honors in 1977, 1984, and 1991. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

During the 1992 season, it was revealed that several Huskies players had received improper benefits. Among them, starting quarterback Billy Joe Hobert had received a series of loans totaling $50,000 made by a friend's father-in-law.[6] While it was later determined the loan was neither an NCAA violation nor an institutional violation, this was the first in a series of reports by the Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times that initiated Pacific-10 Conference and NCAA investigations.[7][8][9] These led to charges that Washington exhibited "lack of institutional control" over its handling of recruiting funds for on-campus visits and a Los Angeles booster summer jobs program.[10] The Huskies received sanctions from both the NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference. Though notably James and the coaching staff were not specifically cited as having broken any rules, James resigned from his head coaching position on August 22, 1993, in protest of what were considered unfair sanctions against his team for minor, unsubstantiated, or fabricated infractions.[11] James later clarified he was protesting what was a betrayal by then University President William Gerberding.[12] Though he and then Athletic Director Barbara Hedges had presented James the final list of penalties that all Pac-10 parties had agreed best for the football program and athletics, Gerberding argued in favor of altering the penalties against the program from a two-year TV revenue ban and one-year bowl ban, to a one-year TV revenue ban and two-year bowl ban.[13][14][15][16][17]

In a 2006 interview with columnist Blaine Newnham of The Seattle Times, Don James said his resignation from head coaching "probably saved his life".[18] In October 2017, the University of Washington unveiled a bronze statue of James in the northwest plaza of Husky Stadium.[19]

Family and later years[edit]

In August 1952, James married his high school sweetheart, Carol Hoobler. Hoobler was a Massillon native who followed James to Miami where she became a cheerleader.[20][21] They were married in August 1952 and had three children, Jeff, Jill, and Jeni.[2]

James died of pancreatic cancer at his Kirkland residence in 2013 at age 80.[22]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Kent State Golden Flashes (Mid-American Conference) (1971–1974)
1971 Kent State 3–8 0–5 6th
1972 Kent State 6–5–1 4–1 1st L Tangerine
1973 Kent State 9–2 4–1 2nd
1974 Kent State 7–4 2–3 T–4th
Kent State: 25–19–1 10–10
Washington Huskies (Pacific-8/Pacific-10 Conference) (1975–1992)
1975 Washington 6–5 5–2 T–3rd
1976 Washington 5–6 3–4 T–4th
1977 Washington 8–4 6–1 1st W Rose 9 10
1978 Washington 7–4 6–2 T–2nd
1979 Washington 9–3 5–2 2nd W Sun 11 11
1980 Washington 9–3 6–1 1st L Rose 17 16
1981 Washington 10–2 6–2 1st W Rose 7 10
1982 Washington 10–2 6–2 2nd W Aloha 7 7
1983 Washington 8–4 5–2 2nd L Aloha
1984 Washington 11–1 6–1 2nd W Orange 2 2
1985 Washington 7–5 5–3 T–4th W Freedom
1986 Washington 8–3–1 5–2–1 T–2nd L Sun 17 18
1987 Washington 7–4–1 4–3–1 T–2nd W Independence
1988 Washington 6–5 3–5 T–6th
1989 Washington 8–4 5–3 T–2nd W Freedom 20 23
1990 Washington 10–2 7–1 1st W Rose 5 5
1991 Washington 12–0 8–0 1st W Rose 1 2
1992 Washington 9–3 6–2 T–1st L Rose 10 11
Washington: 153–57–2 97–38–2
Total: 178–76–3
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

Coaching tree[edit]

Assistant coaches under Don James who became NCAA or NFL head coaches:

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gregg Patton (December 25, 1981). "Don James: Born to be a football coach". The Sun. pp. F1, F7 – via 
  2. ^ a b "Miami Mourns Loss of Don James". University of Miami. October 20, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Don James". University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 6, 2018. 
  4. ^ Kent State Game by Game Results Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Washington Game by Game Results Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Les Carpenter, Billy Joe Hobert: Villain, hero? Debate rages, Seattle Times, June 20, 2002, accessed January 2, 2012.
  7. ^ Musser, Mark (December 3, 2017). "The Leaven of Political Football". American Thinker | 
  8. ^ Johnson, Derek (2007). Husky Football in the Don James Era. Derek Johnson Books. ISBN 978-0979327100. 
  9. ^ Carpenter, Les (June 20, 2002). "Billy Joe Hobert: Villain, hero? Debate rages". The Seattle Times | 
  10. ^ Tom Farrey, No Bowl Play For Huskies, Pac-10 Decides -- Penalties Beyond 1- Year Ban Possible; Ratification Vote Today, Seattle Times, August 22, 1993, accessed January 2, 2012.
  11. ^ Caldwell, Phil (January 21, 2011). "USC Sanctions: Unjust Penalties Against UW a Decade Ago Might Force NCAA's Hand". Bleacher Report | 
  12. ^ Musser, Mark (December 3, 2017). "The Leaven of Political Football". American Thinker. 
  13. ^ Johnson, Derek (2007). Husky Football in the Don James Era. ISBN 9780979327100. 
  14. ^ "The Betrayal of Don James". UW Dawg Pound | uwdawgpound. 
  15. ^ Munson, Carl (December 9, 2011). "The Betrayal: Don James". The Husky Haul | 
  16. ^ "William Gerberding 1929 -2014, fmr UW President Was Architect Of Husky Football's Demise". UW Dawg Pound | January 9, 2015. 
  17. ^ Samek, Dave (August 29, 2004). "The Roses of Wrath". UW Dawg Pound | 
  18. ^ Newnham, Blaine (May 28, 2006). "Don James says quitting UW probably saved his life". The Seattle Times | 
  19. ^ Cohen, Stephen (October 27, 2017). "UW unveils 'Dawgfather' Don James statue outside Husky Stadium". SeattlePI | 
  20. ^ "Husband and Wife Graduate". The Evening Independent. June 8, 1954. p. 2 – via 
  21. ^ "Don James induction video". University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 6, 2018. 
  22. ^ Jude, Adam (October 20, 2013). "Legendary Washington football coach Don James dies at age 80". The Seattle Times | 

External links[edit]