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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 6, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Jim Owens (1927-2009)

We have just learned that former UW football coach Jim Owens has passed away. He was 82.
Here is a story on Owens from Bud Withers.
Owens is one of the most important figures in UW football, coaching the team from 1957-74 and leading a revival both of the Husky program specifically and West Coast football in general. He led UW to back-to-back Rose Bowl titles in 1959-60 that are generally seen as ending a Big Ten domination of the game to that time.
The 1960 team won a share of the national title and was officially recognized as a national title winner by the school in 2007. Here’s a story on that team from the Times in 2007.
The Huskies were far from a powerhouse when Owens took over in 1957. He succeeded Darrell Royal, who went 5-5 in one season before leaving for Texas. Royal had taken over for John Cherberg, who went 10-18-2, a time when the UW program got involved in some trouble with the NCAA.
Owens brought stability to the program, as well as a hard-nosed attitude that came to be known as “Husky football.” Bringing in players such as Bob Schloredt and Don McKeta, he had losing records his first two years while grooming a young group before the turnaround came in 1959.
Owens was 99-82-6 in his UW career, also leading the Huskies to the 1963 Rose Bowl.
Those proved to be the only bowl games UW played in during his time as Washington’s coach, an era when only the conference champ could qualify for the post-season.
But after a few rough years in the late ’60s, Owens helped lead another revival of the program in the early ’70s, recruiting QB Sonny Sixkiller and installing a high-flying passing attack that led to three straight winning seasons and Sixkiller’s emergence as one of the most popular players in school history.
The rough years in the late ’60s included some racial strife, and that history surfaced anew in 2003 when a statute for Owens was unveiled at Husky Stadium. Here is a story from the time noting Owens’ apology for “any hurt” any of his former players may have felt. That was the last public appearance Owens made at Husky Stadium as he was unable to return for the reunion in 2007.
Owens retired after the 1974 season and never coached again.
According to his bio on gohuskies.com, Owens served two-and-a-half years with the Naval Air Corps during World War II. Following his service, Owens enrolled at Oklahoma where he played from 1946-49. Owens was the Sooners’ captain and leading receiver, earning him All-American honors on Oklahoma’s 11-0 squad in 1949. After graduating in 1950, Owens played one season for the Baltimore Colts while also serving as a part-time assistant at John Hopkins University. Owens was then an assistant under Paul “Bear” Bryant at Kentucky from 1951-53 and followed Bryant to Texas A&M in 1954 and stayed until 1956 before coming to UW.
He was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1979.
We’ll have more on this throughout the day.

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