Don James, the longtime Washington coach who led the Huskies to a share of the 1991 national title, died at his home Sunday from the effects of pancreatic cancer. He was 80. James had been undergoing treatment for the disease since late September. Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel released a statement late Sunday night.
“It’s hard to put into words how much it hurts to lose a man like Don James. He was my coach, my mentor, my friend, and he had such an amazing influence on my life, both personally and professionally. The program we built at Toledo and here at Missouri is Don James’ program, it’s a tribute to how he developed men and built football teams. This is a tough, tough day, and I’m so sorry for his wife, Carol, and the James family, as well as the entire Washington Huskies family. Coach James was a legend, and if I’m remembered for anything, I hope that it might be that I helped carry his legacy forward.”
James was 176-78-3 as a head coach at Kent State, where Pinkel played, and Washington, where Pinkel was an assistant coach. James went 153-58-2 with the Huskies from 1975-92 and led the school to a six-pack of Rose Bowl appearances. The pinnacle of James’ career came in 1991 when Washington beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl to finish 12-0. The AP media poll gave Miami the national championship, while the coaches’ voted in Washington as national champ.