university of washington blog

Northwest Coach Profiles: Don James

NCAA Football: Don James

Born: December 31st, 1932
Place of birth: Massillon, Ohio
Position: QB, Defensive Back, Assistant Coach, Head Coach.
Playing Career: 1951-53, Miami (FL) QB, DB
Overall Coaching Record: 178–76–2
Bowls: 10–5

My fondest memories of University of Washington football came during the Don James era. The only time I actually went to Husky Stadium was coach James’ next to last season, and who could forget the co-national championship he led us to in 1991.

The ending was bittersweet for coach James and the Huskies, as it became apparent that QB Billy Joe Hobert was accepting money from boosters, which ultimately led to the resignation of James after NCAA sanctions against the University of Washington.

College Career

Don James attended the University of Miami (FL), where he played both QB, and defensive back for the Hurricanes. His strength on the field was the quarter back position, breaking five Miami school records for passing during his tenure.

His playing career ended upon graduation from Miami, though by attending the University of Kansas to obtain his master’s degree, he found a new home on the sidelines, where he became a graduate assistant for the Jayhawks.

Don James

Northwest Coaches Profile: Don James (The Dawgfather)

James went on to assistant coaching positions at Florida State, Michigan, and Colorado, before finally getting an opportunity as a head coach at Kent State University.

On To Washington

James was hired prior to the 1975 football season to take over for the Huskies as their new head coach. James served for 18 seasons as head coach in Seattle, winning the Rose Bowl four times, and an overall bowl record of 10-5.

Coach James won the honors of national coach of the year three times with the Huskies: 1977, 1984, and 1991. At the time of his retirement, James also held the record for most Pac-10 conference game wins, with 98.

The longest tenured coach at Washington, James also has the most career wins, with 153, winning 98 more games than he lost at the helm in Seattle.

James was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Gone are the glory days of coach Don James on the sidelines at Husky Stadium, but his legacy will always be remembered in Seattle.

James was an institution as great as the University of Washington itself, leading the purple and gold to the national spotlight during his time there.

That will never be forgotten.

“A True Northwest Favorite!”

Rest in Peace Don.

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About Clinton Bell

NWSB Editor. Born and raised in Friday Harbor. Even though he makes his home in Mesa still bleeds Seattle Blue and Green. Mariners Seahawks Sounders till the day he dies! Bring back his Sonics! Connect with Clinton today!
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