Long after Earle Bruce coached his final game at Ohio State in 1987, the former football head coach remained engulfed in the program. As one of the winningest coaches of all time at Ohio State, Bruce’s name lines Ohio State’s facilities, ensuring he won’t be soon forgotten.
Early Friday morning, it was announced through his daughters, Lynn, Michele, Aimee and Noel, that Bruce had died at age 87. Last August, his family made it public that Bruce was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Coach Earle Bruce,” the statement read. “He was a great man, a wonderful, husband, father and grandfather, and a respected coach to many. Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes.”
“I’ve made it clear many times that, other than my father, Coach Bruce was the most influential man in my life,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said through an university release. “Every significant decision I’ve made growing up in this profession was with him involved in it. His wife [Jean] and he were the role models for Shelley and me. They did everything with class. He was not afraid to show how much he loved his family and cared for his family.”
Bruce was 81-26-1 in his nine seasons with Ohio State from 1979 to 1987. He coached the Buckeyes to four Big Ten championships and two Rose Bowls, and finished his career with a 57-17 record in the Big Ten.
In Bruce’s first season in Columbus, he led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season, but fell just short of a national title in the Rose Bowl to USC.
Bruce had a 5-4 record against Michigan and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
His success as a head coach began in Ohio at the high school level. He spent 10 seasons as a high school head coach, including two seasons at historic Massillon Washington High School where he had two undefeated seasons.
In addition to Ohio State, Bruce was the head coach at Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Colorado State. Meyer, Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll were all assistants under Bruce at Ohio State.
Buckeye Nation lost one of its own. Thoughts and prayers to the Bruce Family. My mentor and friend, thank you for all you did for The Ohio State University, and all those players and coaches whose lives you made a difference in. pic.twitter.com/mveMGFHWXO
— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) April 20, 2018
The UofM football program and Harbaugh family send our prayers and condolences to the Earle Bruce family on the passing of a football icon. Simply said Coach Bruce was a respected husband, father, friend and football coach.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 20, 2018
Rest in Heaven Coach Earle Bruce! 🙏🏾
— Joshua E Perry (@RIP_JEP) April 20, 2018
#EarleBruce made a difference in so many lives. You can make a difference in his honor by donating to the fund he was so passionate about later in life. https://t.co/yjD3dJZ2Fw and search for Earle and Jean Bruce Alzheimer's Research Fund in Neurology | Fund Number: 312531
— Matt Finkes (@MattFinkes) April 20, 2018