SEATTLE -- Former Washington football coach Don James, the winningest football coach in University of Washington history, died Sunday from the effects of pancreatic cancer.
The UW said James died at home with his family. The UW said the James family expressed thanks to the thousands of friends, former players and fellow coaches, and fans who prayed and expressed their love and support.
The "Dawgfather" served as the UW football team's head coach from 1975 through 1992.
During his 18 seasons at the helm, he led Washington to six conference titles and the 1991 national championship. James was named the AFCA National Coach of the Year in 1977, when he led the Huskies to the Rose Bowl for his first time. In 1991, he won four different national coach of the year awards. At the time of his retirement in 1993, his 10 bowl-game victories were fourth-most in college history, behind only Paul "Bear" Bryant, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden.
Born Dec. 31, 1932, in Massillon, Ohio, James graduated from Massillon Washington High in 1950. He played quarterback at the University of Miami (Florida), graduating in 1954 with a degree in education.
James went on to earn a master's degree in education from the University of Kansas, where he served as a graduate assistant coach, and was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
After stints as an assistant coach at Florida State, Michigan and Colorado, James was named head coach at Kent State in 1971, compiling a 25-19-1 record over his four seasons. He was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 1972, when he led the Golden Flashes to a conference title and their first-ever bowl game appearance.
Prior to the 1975 season, he was hired as Washington's coach. In his third season, he led the Dawgs to an 8-4 record and a 27-20 win over Michigan in the Rose Bowl, the first of 15 bowl appearances his teams made at the UW.
James won Pac-10 championships in 1980, 1981, 1990, 1991 and 1992. His 1991 team, which finished 12-0 and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, is regarded as the greatest team in Washington history. That team was named the national champion by USA Today/CNN, UPI, the Football Writers, Sports Illustrated and a number of computer rankings.
"My family and I are extremely saddened to hear of Coach James' passing," current UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. "His accomplishments as a football coach stand alone, but what made him truly special is the quality of man he was away from the game. The guidance and leadership he instilled into this program and community are still felt today, and will continue to be felt here for a long, long time."