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Gary Moeller, Former Michigan and Lions Head Coach, Dies at Age 81

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2022

Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

Former Michigan and Detroit Lions head coach Gary Moeller died Monday at age 81.

"Gary Moeller was a great family man, great friend, great coach and a man of integrity and high character," said Lloyd Carr, who coached under Moeller before succeeding him as the Wolverines head coach in 1995. "I admired him, I respected him and I loved him."

Moeller attended Ohio State. Joining the staff at Miami (Ohio) in 1967 helped him eventually land with the Buckeyes' biggest rivals. He was an assistant under Bo Schembechler for two years and followed Schembechler to Ann Arbor in 1969.

Moeller worked his way up to become the defensive coordinator in 1973 before leaving to coach Illinois in 1977. Three years later, he was back with the Wolverines.

Following Schembechler's retirement after the 1989 season, Moeller got his chance to lead the program. Over his five years at the helm, Michigan went 44-13 and earned four bowl wins. A 38-31 victory over Washington in the 1993 Rose Bowl was his high-water mark.

Michigan Football @UMichFootball

Coach Moeller - simply the best.<br><br>RIP 🙏 <a href="https://t.co/rpRD1rmVLq">pic.twitter.com/rpRD1rmVLq</a>

The Lima, Ohio, native laid the groundwork for what was to come under Carr.

Mark Snyder @Mark__Snyder

Gary Moeller’s extraordinary impact on Michigan spans the most influential 30 years of program history. An assistant on the 1969 team, OC/DC/QB coach through 70s and 80s, 3 Big Ten titles as HC in 90s and built much of the NFL-laden 1997 championship roster. Underappreciated. RIP

Nick Baumgardner @nickbaumgardner

The most underrated piece of Gary Moeller’s impact at Michigan, I think, is the impact he and his staff had on the advancement of the pass game in the Big Ten in the early 1990s. RIP to an all-around good football coach.

Moeller resigned in 1995 after what reports at the time called a "drunken incident" at a restaurant in a Detroit suburb. He quickly landed on his feet, serving as the Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach in 1995 and 1996.

From there, Moeller took over as the Lions linebackers coach in 1997. He replaced Bobby Ross midway through the 2000 season, coaching Detroit to a 4-3 record and a 9-7 overall finish.

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