Former College Football Head Coach Johnny Majors dies

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Johnny Majors is carried off of the field by Justin Wade, left, and Nate Cochran, right, after beating Rutgers 24-9 in Major's last game as coach in Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 1996
Photo from (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The University of Pittsburgh announced that Johnny Majors, a legendary college football player and coach, has died.

Majors died at his home in Knoxville, according to his wife, Mary Lynn Majors. “He spent his last hours doing something he dearly loved: looking out over his cherished Tennessee River,” she said in a statement first given to Sports Radio WNML.

Majors was an All-American running back for the Tennessee Volunteers. He played for the school from 1953 to 1956. He lost the Heisman Trophy in 1956 to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung.

Many people believe Majors should have won the award because Hornung’s Notre Dame team was 2-8 at the time. It’s the only time a Heisman has been awarded to a player of a team with a losing record.

Majors finished his collegiate career with two SEC MVP awards as well as an All-American selection.

Although he never played in the NFL. He spent one season with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes before turning his attention to coaching.

He got his first head coaching stint with Iowa State. He coached the Cyclones from 1968 to 1972 and recorded a 24-30-1 record. He lost both bowl-game appearances. He then took the Pittsburgh job in 1973.

From 1973 to 1976, Majors was 33-13-1 as the coach of the Panthers. He led Pittsburgh to a national championship and an undefeated in 1976. He parlayed that into a job with Tennessee.

Majors and the Vols won three SEC titles between 1977 and 1992. He was 7-4 in bowl games during that time. He finished his career at Tennessee with a 116-62-8 record before getting a second stint at Pittsburgh. He coached Pittsburgh again from 1993 to 1996 but couldn’t replicate the success he had in the 1970s.

As a coach, he was the Walter Camp Coach of the Year, the AFCA Coach of the Year, the Sporting News College Football Coach of the Year and the SEC Coach of the Year. He also coached future NFL greats Reggie White and Tony Dorsett.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Tennessee retired Majors’ No. 45 jersey in 2012.

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Shawn Stewart is a writer for Sports 4 America

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