Legendary Tennessee Football Coach Johnny Majors Dead at 85

Johnny Majors, former Tennessee, and Pittsburgh football head coach, died this week, according to the Knoxville News. He was 85 years old. Majors coached the Vols for 16 seasons and won 116 games. The news of his death was confirmed by his family.

"It's with a sad heart that we make this announcement," Mary Lynn Majors, Johnny Majors' wife said, in a statement to WNML. "John passed away this morning. He spent his last hours doing something he dearly loved: looking out over his cherished Tennessee River." Majors' son, John Ireland Majors, talked about the things he loved to do, including traveling and history, while his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Majors, said: "our family will all try to live up to that legacy as we mourn his loss – and celebrate his life."

Majors, who was born in Lynchburg, Tennessee, became head coach of the Vols in 1977. He had a lot of success in Tennessee, winning the SEC Championship in 1985, 1989 and 1990. In 1989, Tennessee finished with an 11-1 record after going 5-6 in 1988. The team defeated Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl to finish No. 5 in the AP and Coaches Poll. In 1990 Majors lead the Vols to a 9-2-2 record and a win against Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.

Before Majors was hired at Tennessee, he was the head coach of Pittsburgh from 1973-1976. He led the Panthers to a national title in 1976 and won National Coach of the Year. He also was the head coach at Iowa State from 1968-1972 and compiled a 24-30-1 record. Majors ended his coaching career by returning to Pittsburgh in 1993. In four seasons with his second stint with the Panthers, Majors tallied 12-32 record.

As a player, Majors was a star halfback at Tennessee in the 1950s. He was a two-time winner of the SEC MVP award and was named an All-American in 1956. Majors was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1956, losing to Paul Hornung, who went on to be a star running back for the Green Bay Packers. Majors then played one season for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League before moving into coaching. While Majors was a coach, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Knoxville has named a street after him and actor Lee Majors used Majors' last name to from his stage name.