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Former Colorado State head football coach and College Football Hall of Fame member Earle Bruce passed away today at the age of 87. He led the Rams’ program from 1989-92, and coached the program to its first bowl win, a 32-31 victory over Oregon in the 1990 Freedom Bowl.
“The Colorado State Athletics family extends our thoughts, prayers and condolences to the Bruce family,” said Joe Parker, director of athletics. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for his accomplishments over the course of his career, including his four years as head coach at Colorado State.”
Bruce compiled a record of 22-24-1 over four seasons in Fort Collins. His Rams’ victorious appearance in the 1990 Freedom Bowl was only the second bowl appearance in program history and the first since 1948. The win remains one of the most memorable in CSU Football history.
Bruce’s Rams produced several of the most iconic wins in the program’s history, including a 17-8 victory over No. 19 Wyoming in 1990 and a win in Death Valley over LSU in Baton Rouge, La., in 1992.
“As head coach at Colorado State, I have great respect for the foundation laid by Coach Bruce and the other head coaches who came before me,” said head football coach Mike Bobo. “Coach Bruce holds a place in our history, and in the history of football coaching, that will always be remembered for great success and achievement. My condolences to the family and friends of Coach Bruce.”
Bruce’s collegiate head coaching career spanned 21 seasons across five different universities, recording a 154-90-2 overall record. Bruce was legendary head coach Woody Hayes’ successor at Ohio State and coached the Buckeyes from 1979-87, winning four Big Ten titles. In his first season at the helm of Ohio State in 1979, Bruce received AFCA Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.
Bruce also was head coach at the University of Tampa (1972), Iowa State (1973-78) and Northern Iowa (1988). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Gary Ozzello, who served as an administrator in the CSU Athletics department from 1978-2014, was sports information director during Coach Bruce’s four years as the Rams’ head coach.
“Earle was an individual who brought attention to detail and an attitude to Colorado State that mediocrity in any form, in any part of the program, was unacceptable.” Ozzello said. “He was able to do something that had not been done at CSU in four decades: Not only going to a bowl game, but winning.”
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