Sonny Grandelius

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Sonny Grandelius
Sonny Grandelius.png
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1929-04-16)April 16, 1929
Muskegon Heights, Michigan
Died April 25, 2008(2008-04-25) (aged 79)
Beverly Hills, Michigan
Playing career
1948–1950 Michigan State
1953 New York Giants
Position(s) Fullback, halfback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1954–1958 Michigan State (assistant)
1959–1961 Colorado
1962–1963 Philadelphia Eagles (assistant)
1964 Detroit Lions (assistant)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1974 Detroit Wheels (GM)
Head coaching record
Overall 20–11
Bowls 0–1
Accomplishments and honors
1 Big Eight (1961)
All-American, 1950
Duffy Daughtery Award (1991)[1]

Everett John "Sonny" Grandelius (April 16, 1929 – April 25, 2008) was an American football player, coach, announcer, and executive. He served as the head coach at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1959 to 1961, compiling a record of 20–11. Grandelius played football at Michigan State University from 1948 to 1950 and with the National Football League's New York Giants in 1953.

Playing career[edit]

Born in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, Grandelius attended Muskegon Heights High School, and is a 1987 inductee to the Muskegon Sports Hall of Fame.[2] He led his team to back-to-back state championships in 1945 as a quarterback and in 1946 as a fullback when he was also selected as a first team All-State.

He gained 184 rushing yards in the 1950 season opener, establishing a then school record. During his senior season, he gained 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns on 163 attempts, the 17th back in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards or more in a season and the first at Michigan State.[3] He was the leading scorer for the team and selected as the team's MVP. Grandelius also was an All-American his senior year in 1950, selected by three publications including the AP.[1] As of 2006, he was ranked fourth in career average yards per carry at Michigan State (6.09, minimum of 150 attempts) and tied for tenth in rushing touchdowns for a single season (11).[4] He had seven 100-yard rushing games in his career. He was the MVP of the 1951 Hula Bowl and also lettered in boxing his sophomore year.[2]

100-yard rushing games[edit]

Drafted as the 11th pick in the third round (37th overall) of the 1951 NFL Draft,[5] Grandelius played one season (1953) in the NFL for the New York Giants. He rushed 108 times for 278 yards with 1 touchdown and 3 fumbles and also had 15 receptions for 80 yards.[6]

Coaching career[edit]

Grandelius was hired as the head football coach of Colorado beginning with the 1959 season. He would lead the team to controversial greatness, including a Big Eight Conference Championship in 1961.[3] However, shortly after the 1962 Orange Bowl that Colorado lost, it became rumor that Grandelius had been using a slush fund to pay between 15 and 30 top recruits and their families. The NCAA investigated and released inconclusive findings on April 27, 1962,[7] which led to more controversy and resulted in Grandelius' firing. Only one regent, Charles Bromley, of the University voted not to fire Grandelius, saying the firing "violated every principle of fair play since the Magna Carta."[8]

The football team was also punished for two seasons by not allowing television coverage of games or be involved in any post-season bowl games. At least 20 players lost scholarships or left Colorado. News accounts at the time claimed that Grandelius was the first coach in the country fired for recruiting improprieties.[9]

After leaving Colorado, Grandelius went on to assistant coaching positions with the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.

Later life and death[edit]

Grandelius was a color commentator for Detroit Lions telecasts on CBS from 1965 to 1967. He was also the general manager for the WFL Detroit Wheels in 1974.[10] Grandelius died on April 25, 2008 at age 79 in Beverly Hills, Michigan.[3]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Colorado Buffaloes (Big Eight Conference) (1959–1961)
1959 Colorado 5–5 3–3 T–3rd
1960 Colorado 6–4[n 1] 5–2[n 1] 2nd[n 1]
1961 Colorado 9–2 7–0 1st L Orange 7 7
Colorado: 20–11 15–5
Total: 20–11
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title


  1. ^ a b c Kansas later forfeited their 1960 Big Eight Conference win over Colorado because of the use of an ineligible player. Nonetheless, the NCAA and Colorado records credit Grandelius with the loss and a 6–4 record for the season.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b "2003 Michigan State Media Guide" (PDF). Michigan State. 2003. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  2. ^ a b "CLASS of 1987". Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  3. ^ a b c "Ex-Buff coach Grandelius dies". Daily Camera. 2008-04-27. Retrieved 2008-04-28. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Rushing Records (p. 96)" (PDF). 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-10. 
  5. ^ "1951 NFL Draft". Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  6. ^ John Troan (2003-07-20). "Sonny Grandelius". Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Colorado's 1962 NCAA Public Infraction Report". NCAA. 1962-04-27. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  8. ^ Paul Danish (June 2005). "Coloradan Boulder Beat" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-01-10. However, it was found later that Grandelius was never part of any wrongdoing or having a slush fund. 
  9. ^ "CU-News:Recruiting violations". Boulder Daily Camera. 2004-02-07. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  10. ^ "Detroit WFL Wheels - 1974". Retrieved 2007-01-10. 
  11. ^ "Coaching Records" (PDF). 2010 Colorado Football Information Guide & Record Book. University of Colorado Buffaloes. p. 129. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 16, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Season-By-Season Results" (PDF). 2010 Colorado Football Information Guide & Record Book. University of Colorado Buffaloes. p. 233. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 

External links[edit]