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Terry Donahue, UCLA’s most successful football manager, dies at 77

Terry Donahue, the most successful manager in Pac-12 Conference and UCLA football history who later served as general manager of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, has died

The school said he died at his Newport Beach home after two years of battling cancer.

Donahue has the most wins (98) of any coach in Pac-12 history and also the most wins (151) in UCLA history. He coached the Bruins from 1971 to 1975, working as an assistant to Pepper Rodgers and then to Dick Vermeil, before assuming the role of head coach at the age of 31 and serving from 1976 to 1995. His first job after college is Been as Rodgers’ assistant in Kansas for one season.

Donahue was the first to appear in a Rose Bowl game as a player, assistant coach and head coach. The Bruins won the New Years game in 1983, ’84 and ’86 during his tenure as manager. He was the first college coach to earn bowling victories in seven straight seasons, from 1983 to 1989.

He had a record of 151-74-8 at UCLA and a score of 98-51-5 in the Pac-12 game. The Bruins have won or shared five league titles during Donahue’s tenure. He has coached such future Hall of Famers as quarterback Troy Aikman, safety Kenny Easley and outside linebacker Jonathan Ogden.

Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Rose Bowl press box was named for him in 2013.

“He embodies everything you live to be as a manager and as a human being,” said current UCLA football manager Chip Kelly. “From the moment I walked into campus, he was an incredible mentor and one of the most authentic, humble and toughest men I’ve ever met. He loved UCLA with everything he had, and I can’t express how important his leadership and friendship were to me. “

After retiring from the business of coaching, Donahue worked for CBS, Fox and the NFL Network calling the games.

He served as 49ers player personnel director in 1999-2000 and as team GM from 2001-05. He turned down the chance to coach the Dallas Cowboys, a move that would reunite him with Aikman in 1998.

Andrea, his 52-year-old wife, survives him; the daughters Nicole, Michele and Jennifer; and 10 grandchildren.


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