Apr 23, 2019

Former Fresno State football coach Jim Sweeney dies at 83

Jim Sweeney, a former Fresno State football coach, died Friday. He was 83.

Sweeney (born Sept. 1, 1929) coached the Bulldogs from 1976-77 and 1980-1996. In his 19 seasons at the Fresno State helm, he compiled a 144-7-3 (.658) record, and led the Bulldogs to eight conference championships and five bowl victories.

Sweeney went 200-154-4 in his 32 years a head coach — which also incuded stops at Montana State and Washington State. Sweeney also had briefs stints in the NFL as an assistant coach for the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams.

Sweeney’s son, Kevin, was a quarterback for the Bulldogs in 1983-86 and remains the school’s leader in career passing yardage (10,808).

After Sweeney retired from coaching in 1996, Fresno State renamed the field at Bulldog Stadium to Jim Sweeney Field in his honor.

“Jim Sweeney is a Bulldog legend who will be deeply missed in our community,” Fresno State President John D. Welty said in a statement released by the school’s athletics department. “Not only was he one of Fresno State’s most successful football coaches, but he was also a man who loved his student-athletes, first as individuals, and second as athletes, making their well-being a priority. Jim was devoted to Fresno and to our university – he embodied the true Bulldog spirit.”

Current Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter expressed his condolences for Sweeney on Twitter.

A memorial serivice to honor the late Sweeney at Bulldog Stadium has been planned for next Saturday.

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