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Former Buffaloes coach Bill Mallory remembered as mentor in life

Former CU coach passed away on May 25; five days before his 83rd birthday

Steve Larson/The Denver Post

Bill Mallory stood out among the rest.

In the days where huge sums of money wasn’t a motivating factor, the longtime coach was a leader in the college communities he was adopted into. Not often would you find a coach like Mallory, who carried a profound admiration for anyone he came in contact with. As much as he taught young men about the game of football that always came second to what he offered in life. Putting everything into prospective with the teachings of good morals, true values and respect— that all came standard in Mallory’s playbook.

One of his former players and current Indiana University defensive line coach Mark Hagen told the Indianapolis Star, “I’ve never been around a more humble person. It was never, ever about Bill Mallory. He knew he had to help young men grow into young adults.”

That’s the type of person Bill Mallory was — selfless, yet destined to lead. And that was always his mark in coaching.

Mallory’s career as a head coach started with Miami (OH) where he posted a 39-12 record in five seasons for the then Redskins, including a Tangerine Bowl win over Florida to secure an undefeated 11-0 season in 1973. The following season he replaced University of Colorado legend Eddie Crowder, who moved on from roaming the sidelines to assuming the role of athletic director in Boulder. Mallory took over the program with CU needing an extra boost to contend for a Big Eight title, a feat that would be accomplished in 1976 with a 8-4 record, Mallory best mark over five seasons with the Buffaloes in which he went 35-21-1 overall.

At Colorado, he saw 37 of his seniors drafted into the National Football League, and another 16 players that he and his staff recruited in subsequent years. Seven different players earned first-team All-America honors, while 13 earned first-team All-Big Eight honors.

“He was a hard-nosed tough coach who demanded that toughness from his players,” said Brian Cabral, who played from Mallory and later coached at CU. “I have all the respect for him instilling that in me. That’s how I survived in the NFL my first four years with four different teams before set line in permanently with the (Chicago) Bears.”

“But that’s life,” he continued. “Life isn’t easy, and he taught us many life lessons as well. But in his competitiveness, his intensity and toughness, you could not help but believe that he cared about you. And that all he was demanding was your best.”

Mallory willed CU to compete with a 8-14 record against ranked teams, and one win against a top 10 opponent— a 31-20 win over No. 10 Missouri in 1975.

CU alum Dave Logan remembers Mallory for his uncompromising work ethic. “He brought and old school toughness to the program, a higher level of accountability and in terms of how we practiced, in a very physical style. He stressed to every player that you are accountable to the program, your teammates, the coaching staff and the university.”

“It wasn’t all smooth sailing for sure, but looking back on it, it was a valuable two years for me,” Logan said. “Coach definitely humbled a number of us, but he would always find a way to build us back up and I’m forever grateful for the kind of head coach he was.”

Colorado was a temporary stop for Mallory, moving on to Northern Illinois before landing in Indiana in 1984, where he would have the longest tenure of his career. Ask anyone involved with Hoosiers’ football and they would say Mallory revived the football program at a highly dominated basketball school. Prior to his involvement in Bloomington, IU struggled finding consistency and lost twice as many games than the total number of wins going back to 1948 (234-235-6, 49.2%). Add that to a total of two bowl appearances in school history when Mallory took over. Defying the odds, he ended up pushing the Hoosiers to six bowl games (2-4) along with seven winning seasons during 13 years in Bloomington. Indiana went 69-77-3 under Mallory — they were 60-42-3 in the nine seasons between 1986 and 1994 — as he became the Hoosiers’ all-time winningest football coach.

In 1987, Indiana beat Ohio State for the first time since 1951, and Michigan for the first time since 1967. At the time, Buckeyes coach Earle Bruce called the 41-7 loss in Columbus the “darkest day in Ohio State football since I have been associated with it.”

Mallory was a two-time Coach of the Year in both the Mid-American Conference (1973 and 1983) and in the Big Ten (1986, 1987), the first to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons for the latter. Mallory is a Hall of Fame member for Miami University, Indiana University and the Mid-American Conference with an overall coaching record of 168-129-4.

Mallory suffered a brain injury due to a fall at his home on May 22. He was later moved into hospice care following emergency surgery and passed away three days later at the age of 82. Many are calling for Indiana University to rename Memorial Stadium in Mallory’s honor.

A coach gone, but surely not forgotten.