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Longtime football coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 88

por Bernardo Walck (2020-06-08)

Former Kansas, UCLA and Georgia Tech head football coach Franklin "Pepper" Rodgers died Thursday at age 88 in Reston, Va.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Rodgers fell at home Saturday, causing arterial bleeding that precipitated a stroke and a heart attack.

Rodgers was a quarterback and placekicker for the Georgia Tech team that went 12-0 in 1952 and won a share of the national title.

After a five-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, Rodgers began a college coaching career that saw him lead Kansas from 1967-70, UCLA from 1971-73 and Georgia Tech from 1974-79.

He subsequently was the head coach of the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League in 1984-85 and of the Memphis Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League in 1995.

Rodgers served as the Washington Redskins' vice president of football operations from 2001-04.

In his playing career, Rodgers helped the Yellow Jackets cap a perfect season a 24-7 victory over Ole Miss in the 1953 Sugar Bowl. He kicked a field goal, made three extra points and tossed a touchdown pass.

The next year, Rodgers was the Sugar Bowl MVP, firing three touchdown passes and kicking a field goal and two extra points during a 42-19 rout of West Virginia.

Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said in a statement, "I am devastated to learn of the passing of Pepper Rodgers. He was a Georgia Tech legend, having won a national championship as an outstanding player and going on to compile four winning seasons in six years as head coach.

"On a personal note, ?????? he was the coach that recruited me to Georgia Tech, and I am eternally grateful to him for bringing me here. If it weren't for Pepper, I would have never had the opportunity to live out my dreams as a Tech student, football player, alumnus and, now, athletics director."

Following stints as an assistant coach at Air Force, Florida and UCLA, Rodgers took over as head coach at Kansas, and he led the Jayhawks to a 20-22 record. Kansas went 9-2 in 1968, losing in the Orange Bowl and finishing No. 7 in the Associated Press poll.

"He was a great guy. (He) loved KU," Terry Donahue, one of his Kansas assistant coaches, told the Kansas City Star on Thursday.

Rodgers moved to UCLA, where he had a 2-7-1 season in 1971 before the Bruins went 8-3 and 9-2 the following two years, finishing in the AP top 15 both times.

He then returned to his alma mater, where he produced a 34-31-2 record.

Overall, Rodgers had a 73-65-3 record as a head coach.

During his time with the Redskins, he worked with head coaches Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement, "I was terribly saddened to hear the news about the passing of Pepper Rodgers. Anyone who knew Pepper knew what a genuinely good person he was. He was a kind and gentle man who helped guide me as a young owner in the NFL. He had an incredible knowledge of the game and was beloved by everyone in the organization."

--Field Level Media