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Pittsburgh and Tennessee coach Johnny Majors dies at 85

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85-year-old johnny Majors was a college football hero who coached Pittsburgh to national championships, and he returned to his hometown to forge a successful career of 16years head coaching career at Tennessee University.

He died today, Wednesday at his home in Knoxville, he was 85.

The cause of his demise is unknown at the moment.


Early life

John Terrill Majors is his birth name. He was born on 21st May 1935. He was born to Shirley and Elizabeth Majors. His father was also a well-known coach, a high school coach who became a university coach.

Majors played as a T-formation quarterback for a high school team, he played in a game, and they had won. That one win was against his father’s team. His father coached at Huntland high school, and the loss angered his father so much that he vowed it would be the “last dad-blamed time a son of mine plays against me,” as Majors recalled in a memoir “You Can Go Home” (1986 with Ben Byrd).

The family then moved to Huntland, where Majors finished his high school career playing for his father’s squad.

An assistant under Majors at Iowa and Pittsburgh who later succeeded him as Pittsburgh’s coach, Jackie Sherrill, came out to talk about the role Majors’ father played in his son’s coaching career. He says majors were exposed to what a football coach was at an early age, and he knew exactly what it took to be a successful football coach. He also said Majors knew how to treat his players as well.


His Football and coaching career.

He was a head coach for 29 years.  Four years at Pittsburgh, five years at Iowa State, 16 years at Tennessee, and four more at Pittsburgh. While coaching at Tennessee, he had helped bring southeastern championships and 12 post-season bowl trips. He went under surgery, heart surgery to be precise, and survived it.

His offensive coordinator Philip Fulmer took his place while he was recovering. Fulmer had come with some force, he helped win the first three games of the season, Majors had returned and completely ruined it, he lost three of his first five games.

People started to prefer Fulmer over him. University officials replaced Majors with Fulmer and offered him a job as an assistant athletic director, which he rejected and negotiated a buyout. “The University of Tennessee jerked the rug from under me, I have a lot of anger, and a feeling of betrayal ” majors said at the time.

Majors had an all America Career at a 5 foot 10, 165-pound tailback who played well at Tennessee. He passed, punted, and called signals, and he also played safety. In 1956, Johnny’s senior year, Tennessee was 10-0 in the regular season and ranked second nationally to Oklahoma before being upset by Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.

Majors came second to Paul Hornung in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Paul Hornung was the Notre Dame quarterback and future NFL Hall of Fame running back of the Green Bay Packers. Majors no 45 jerseys were retired by Tennessee in 2012 as he was inducted into the College Hall of Fame as a player in 1987.

Two days after another former southeastern conference head coach Pat Dye of Auburn was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Major dies.

He spent 11 years as an assistant head coach after he was denied selection into the draft because he was too small to play in the national football league. He also spent three seasons at Tennessee, four at Mississippi State, four at Arkansas before finally becoming head coach for Iowa State. He became the coach for a team known for 11 consecutive losing seasons.

He brought his recruits into the teams and completely changed the game. He was voted coach of the year in 1973 and 1976, Majors returned to Pittsburgh to coach them again, but it did not go so well for him, losses came, and he was devasted. In his second stint at Pittsburgh, his teams finished 3-8, 3-8, 2-9, and 4-7. In his final season, Pittsburgh lost to Ohio State by 72-0, Miami by 45-0, Syracuse by 55-7 and Notre Dame by 60-6. Majors resigned after that.

His family believes he died doing what he loved. He will be missed by his players, friend, and family.



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