Former Ohio State Football Coach Earle Bruce Dies At 87

Apr 20, 2018

Ohio State University says former football coach Earle Bruce has died. Bruce, 87, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Ohio State athletic officials emailed a statement from Bruce’s daughters early Friday morning.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, Coach Earle Bruce, early this morning, Friday, April 20. He was a great man, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, and a respected coach to many. Our family will miss him dearly, but we take solace in the belief that he is in a better place and reunited with his beloved wife, Jean. We thank you for your prayers and good wishes.

Bruce succeeded Woody Hayes in 1979 and led the Buckeyes to two outright conference titles and shares of two others before being fired in 1987. He’s perhaps best known for being carried off the field by his players after beating Michigan in his final game as coach.

"A lot of things I learned in life about how to handle adversity was learned from Coach Bruce when he was fired on  Monday before the Michigan game, and how he handled that and put the team's needs above his own needs," said former All American linebacker Chris Spielman, who played for Bruce.  He spoke Friday on Canton’s WHBC radio about his fond memories of the coach. 

Bruce was also known for appearances on Columbus radio and television shows.

Bruce was a fullback at Ohio State in the 1950s and was an OSU assistant coach before taking head coaching jobs at the University of Tampa and Iowa State University.

After leaving OSU, Bruce had brief coaching stints with Northern Iowa and Colorado State. He also spent one season coaching Columbus’ Arena Football League team before the league folded in 2004.