NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) – Former football coach Terry Donahue — the winningest football coach in Pacific-12 Conference and UCLA history — has died at his Newport Beach home after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 77.
Donahue, who died Sunday, was the first person to appear in a Rose Bowl Game as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He began playing for the Bruins in 1965 and helped the team to their first-ever Rose Bowl victory against unbeaten Michigan State. He served as an assistant coach first under Pepper Rodgers, then Dick Vermeil. He became head coach during the 1976 season at age 31 and served until 1995.
His 151 wins are the most in UCLA history. He also won more Pac-12 games than any other coach, with a 98-51-5 record. He won or shared five conference titles (four in the 1980s, one in the 90s) during his 20-year head coaching career. During his tenure, the Bruins won three Rose Bowls — 1983, 84, 86 — and in 2013, the Rose Bowl press box was named in his honor, the Terry Donahue Pavilion.
He also had a winning record where it mattered most — against crosstown rival, USC. Against the Trojans, Donahue went 10-9-1.
Donahue coached 34 first-team All-America players, including future NFL Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Jonathan Ogden and Kenny Easley.
Another UCLA coaching legend, the late John Wooden, praised Donahue’s devotion to the Westwood campus. “I believe that a head coach, particularly at UCLA, should be judged by his or her peers within the university community-at- large as to whether the student-athletes with whom the coach was entrusted become not only excellent athletes but also, and more importantly, better students and better all-around individuals,” the iconic basketball coach said of his colleague. “There is no doubt in my mind that Terry Donahue deserves the recognition of having achieved that very ethereal form of success.”
In 2000, Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Three years earlier, he was selected to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, class of 2001. And he was named by ESPN as one of the 150 Greatest College Coaches of all time.
Donahue was born in Los Angeles, and attended St. Charles Borromeo Elementary School in North Hollywood and graduated from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks.
After his coaching career ended, Donahue became a broadcaster for CBS Sports and FOX. He also served as general manager for the San Francisco 49ers from 2001 to 2005.
“I’ve known Terry Donahue for 40 years,” Los Angeles Times sports reporter Eric Sondheimer tweeted. “A man of integrity, relentless energy and bled UCLA blue and gold. He helped mold so many young people and continued after retirement from UCLA. Anyone and everyone is better for having met him. A kind Valley boy from (Sherman Oaks’ Notre Dame High School). RIP.”
Donahue is survived by his wife of 52 years, Andrea, and three daughters, three sons-in-law and 10 grandchildren.
A private service is planned for his family, and a celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date, according to the UCLA Athletic Department.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)