Former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce, whose nine-year tenure in Columbus came after one season as coach of the University of Tampa's now-defunct program, passed away earlier this morning at age 87.
Mr. Bruce reportedly had been battling Alzheimer's disease.
A former OSU player whose career was cut short by a knee injury, Mr. Bruce compiled a 154-90-2 record with seven bowl triumphs in 21 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Ohio State announces coach Earle Bruce died this morning. He was 87. pic.twitter.com/gy34sV1Ihd— Matt Edwards (@MattEdwardsNBC4) April 20, 2018
In his first gig, he led the 1972 UT squad to a 10-2 record and 21-18 victory against Kent State in the Tangerine Bowl. Paul Orndorff, who went on to achieve international fame as a WWE heel known as "Mr. Wonderful," had two touchdown catches in the game.
He moved on to Iowa State, leading his last two Cyclone teams to 8-4 records, before being hired at Ohio State in 1979 following legendary predecessor Woody Hayes' dismissal. In nine seasons, Mr. Bruce's Buckeyes teams won or shared four Big Ten titles, but never matched the 11-1 mark he compiled in his first season.
He was dismissed shortly before the Michigan game in 1987. The Buckeyes won, 23-20, in Ann Arbor, and Bruce was carried off the field on his players' shoulders.
RIP Earle Bruce, nobody got me more excited about Michigan week more than the Earl Bruce pep talks on the radio. https://t.co/v4iJa3VvKF— Anthony Lima (@SportsBoyTony) April 20, 2018
He went on to coach one season at Northern Iowa and four more at Colorado State before his dismissal as Rams coach. He later coached briefly in the Arena Football League, and served as a radio analyst for Buckeyes football. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Mr. Bruce is survived by four daughters and eight grandchildren.