Legendary HBCU Football Coach Archie Cooley Dies at 85

Legendary HBCU football coach Archie Cooley, known for developing Jerry Rice, passes away at 85. His innovative offense and impact on college football are celebrated.

Salman Khan
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Legendary HBCU Football Coach Archie Cooley Dies at 85

Legendary HBCU Football Coach Archie Cooley Dies at 85

Archie Cooley, the legendary HBCU football coach known for developing Jerry Rice at Mississippi Valley State, died on April 18, 2023, at the age of 85 in Fort Worth, Texas. Cooley was an innovative coach whose offense helped Rice become a record-breaking receiver during his time at Mississippi Valley State.

Cooley, nicknamed the 'Gunslinger' for his creative passing offense, led his teams at Mississippi Valley State to set dozens of NCAA records. His offense featured a five-wide receiver, no-huddle approach that averaged over 61 points per game in 1984. Cooley's most famous pupil was Jerry Rice, who went on to become a Hall of Fame NFL wide receiver after an outstanding career at Mississippi Valley State.

During Cooley's tenure as head coach from 1978 to 1988, Rice set numerous NCAA records, including 112 catches for 1,845 yards and 27 touchdowns in 1984. That season, Mississippi Valley State made the Division I-AA playoffs. Quarterback Willie 'Satellite' Totten also thrived in Cooley's system, forming an impressive duo with Rice.

Cooley spent 19 seasons as a head coach at four HBCUs, compiling an 83-78-5 record. After Mississippi Valley State, he coached at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Norfolk State, and Paul Quinn College, helping launch their football programs. In 2007, Cooley was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in recognition of his coaching achievements.

Why this matters: Cooley's innovative offensive philosophy and development of NFL talent like Jerry Rice left an unforgettable mark on college football. His success at HBCUs showcased the immense talent and potential at these institutions.

Born in Sumrall, Mississippi, Cooley played college football at Jackson State before beginning his coaching career on the high school level. His family is currently living in Fort Worth, where his son Dwight founded a Mississippi-style fish restaurant. Visitation and funeral services for Cooley will be held in Fort Worth on April 25 and 26, with burial scheduled for April 30 at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

Key Takeaways

  • Archie Cooley, legendary HBCU football coach, died on April 18, 2023, at age 85.
  • Cooley's innovative offense helped Jerry Rice set NCAA records at Mississippi Valley State.
  • Cooley's teams set dozens of NCAA records during his 1978-1988 tenure as head coach.
  • Cooley had a 19-year coaching career at four HBCUs, with an 83-78-5 record.
  • Cooley was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2007 for his coaching achievements.