Former Ohio St. Football Coach Earle Bruce Dies at Age 87

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2018

** FILE ** Ohio State University head coach Earle Bruce is carried from the field on the shoulders of his players after Ohio State defeated Michigan 14-9 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on in this Nov. 21, 1981 file photo.  Top-ranked Ohio State takes on No. 2 Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006 in Columbus.  (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, Columbus Dispatch)
AMY SANCETTA/Associated Press

Former Ohio State head football coach Earle Bruce died early Friday morning at the age of 87, his family announced.

According to ESPN.com, Bruce was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2017.

Bruce's daughters—Lynn, Michele, Aimee and Noel—issued the following statement on their father's death, per CNN.com's Jill Martin:

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Coach Earle Bruce, early this morning, Friday, April 20. He was a great man, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, and a respected coach to many. Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes."

Bruce coached the Buckeyes for nine seasons from 1979 through 1987, and he also enjoyed stints at Iowa State and Colorado State.

In 19 seasons and 223 games as a major college head coach, Bruce went 139-82-2 with six bowl wins.

His greatest success came at OSU. He went 81-26-1 with the Buckeyes, including victories in the Fiesta Bowl, Citrus Bowl and Cotton Bowl.

Bruce replaced Woody Hayes at Ohio State, and in his first season, the Buckeyes finished with an 11-1 record. The year culminated in a 17-16 loss to USC in the Rose Bowl.

Bruce played running back for Ohio State until a torn meniscus ended his career in 1951.

The Cumberland, Maryland, native won at least nine games in each of his first eight seasons as the Buckeyes' head coach.

In addition to his tenures at Iowa State, Ohio State and Colorado State, Bruce was the head coach at the University of Tampa for one season in 1972, and he coached Northern Iowa for one season in 1988.

Bruce's last collegiate work came in 1992, but he went on to coach four different teams in the Arena Football League.

After his career on the sidelines, Bruce served as an Ohio State football analyst on local radio and television.

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