Former EIU Coach Darrell Mudra Dies At Age 93


Published on September 22 2022 2:37 pm
Last Updated on September 22 2022 2:38 pm

Darrell Mudra, a 2000 College Football Hall of Fame inductee who headed programs at seven different colleges and won two national championships, passed away Sept. 21. He was 93 and the oldest living Hall of Fame coach and the fourth oldest inductee.

"Darrell Mudra left his mark on numerous college programs, turning them around and winning more than 70 percent of his games en route to two national titles," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "He always credited his assistants, and he mentored countless players over the years. We are saddened to learn of his passing, and our thoughts are prayers are with his family at this time of loss."

Nicknamed "Dr. Victory" because of his success at each level, Mudra always shied away from all the accolades, preferring to let his assistants and players take the credit. He retired from collegiate football in 1988, concluding a career, which boasted two national championships and an overall record of 200-81-4 and a 70.9 winning percentage.

Mudra started his collegiate head-coaching career at Adams State (CO) from 1959-62, leading the team to the 1962 Mineral Bowl, where they defeated Northern Illinois 23-20. During his four seasons with the Grizzlies, he amassed 32–4–1 record while leading the team to three conference titles.

In 1963, he became the head coach and athletics director at North Dakota State where he successfully turned the program around from a 0-10 record the year before, to a 1964 Mineral Bowl victory. In 1965, he won his first national championship defeating Grambling 20-7 in the Pecan Bowl. His three seasons in Fargo concluded with an overall record of 24-6.

After his first national championship season, he headed to the University of Arizona for two seasons (1967-68), leading the Wildcats to the 1968 Sun Bowl and a two-season record of 11-9-1.

He spent the next five seasons at Western Illinois (1969-73), accumulating a 39-13 record while winning the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in 1969 and reaching the Division II Quarterfinals in 1973.

Mudra coached Florida State for two years (1974-75) with a 4-18 record, and he was replaced by future College Football Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden.\He then headed to Eastern Illinois (1978-82) where he won the Division II National Championship in his first year. During his five seasons with the Panthers, he also won three conference titles with an overall record of 47–15–1. His Panther teams reached the Division II national title game again in 1980 and the Division I-AA (now FCS) Quarterfinals in 1982.

Coach Mudra concluded his head coaching career with five seasons (1983-87) at Northern Iowa, leading the team to the I-AA semifinals in 1985 and 1987 and an overall record of 43–16–1. The Panthers were ranked fourth nationally at the end of the 1987 season and lost to the eventual national champion Northeast Louisiana 44-41 in overtime. He was named Kodak Region 4 Coach of the Year in 1985 while at UNI.

As a head coach he broke with norms, coaching all his games from the press box.  He also coached the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for one season in 1966 to a 7-7 record. Initially hired as an assistant basketball coach (1952-53) at the University of Omaha in Nebraska, Mudra served as assistant football coach at Ashland High School (NE), Tekamah High School (NE) 1954-1956, Huron College (SD) and Colorado State.

Born Jan. 14, 1929, in Omaha, Nebraska, Mudra graduated from Omaha South High School, and he went to play fullback at Peru State (NE), graduating in 1951.