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Football: Former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce dies at 87

Earle Bruce coached Ohio State from 1979 to 1987. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

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.

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