|Born||August 26, 1933|
|Died||January 2, 2019 (aged 85)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
2 ACC (1989, 1995)
First-team All-American (1955)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (1991)
4x ACC Coach of the Year (1983, 1984, 1991, 1995)
George Welsh (August 26, 1933 – January 2, 2019) was an American college football player and coach. He served as head football coach of the Navy Midshipmen football team of the United States Naval Academy from 1973 to 1981, and the Virginia Cavaliers football team of the University of Virginia from 1982 to 2000.
Welsh retired as the winningest coach in ACC history. Although that record was later surpassed by Bobby Bowden of Florida State, Welsh remains far and away the most successful coach in UVA history (his 134 wins are more than double those of runner-up Al Groh). He was named ACC Coach of the Year four times (1983, 1984, 1991 and 1995) and National Coach of the Year once (1991).
Upon Welsh's retirement after the 2000 season, his 189 career victories ranked him 24th in Division I-A history.
Early life and career[edit | edit source]
Welsh was born in Coaldale, Pennsylvania. He played for the Navy Midshipmen from 1952 to 1955, and was a first-team All-American at quarterback in 1955. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1956, he served as an assistant coach under Rip Engle and Joe Paterno at Penn State from 1963 to 1972.
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Welsh began his head coaching career at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1973. He inherited a Navy Midshipmen football program that had only had one winning season since the end of the Roger Staubach era. He led the Midshipmen to three bowl game appearances and their first nine-win season in 16 years. In nine seasons, Welsh compiled a record of 55–46–1, making him the service academy's second-most successful coach, behind only Ken Niumatalolo.
Head coach at UVA[edit | edit source]
In 1982, Welsh left Navy to become the head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers, who had just finished a 1-10 season. He walked into a situation even worse than the one he had inherited at Navy. Prior to his arrival, Virginia had only two winning seasons in the previous 29 years and had never been to a post-season bowl game. The Cavaliers had also only one winning record in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play, had only finished higher than fourth twice, and had only won 33 conference games in 29 years of ACC play.
Welsh turned around the program quickly. In his third season he led the Cavaliers to their first-ever bowl appearance, a victory in the 1984 Peach Bowl. In 1987, Virginia started a streak of 13 straight seasons with seven or more wins. This stretch included shared ACC titles in 1989 and 1995 and 11 additional bowl appearances. His teams also compiled four nine-win seasons, including a school-record 10 wins in 1989. His 1990 team was ranked No. 1 in both polls for two weeks in October—to date, the only time a Division I team from the Commonwealth has been ranked No. 1 in a major poll. His 1995 team defeated Florida State 33-28 on November 2, the first time the Seminoles had lost a conference game since joining the conference.
Welsh retired after the 2000 season due to health concerns.
In 19 years as the Cavaliers' head coach, he became the most successful coach in school and Atlantic Coast Conference history. Before Welsh arrived at Virginia, the Cavaliers had won just 7 of their last 27 yearly football contests against rival Virginia Tech. During Welsh's head coaching career at UVa, his teams went 9-10 against Virginia Tech, including an 8-6 record against Hokies coach Frank Beamer. At one point during Welsh's coaching career at UVA, Virginia won 5 of 6 games against the Hokies, with 3 of the wins coming on Tech's home field. UVa firsts accomplished under Welsh:
- First bowl appearance—1984 Peach Bowl vs. Purdue
- First-ever unanimous All-America choice—1985, offensive tackle Jim Dombrowski
- Signed UVA's first Parade All-American National football Player-Of-The-Year, 1988, running back Terry Kirby of Tabb (VA) High School
- First 10-win season—1989, 10–3
- First ACC Championship—1989
- First victory over Clemson—1990
- First time ranked #1—1990, 4 weeks
- First team to beat Florida State in ACC play—1995
Death[edit | edit source]
Head coaching record[edit | edit source]
|Navy Midshipmen (NCAA Division I / I-A independent) (1973–1981)|
|1980||Navy||8–4||L Garden State|
|Virginia Cavaliers (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1982–2000)|
|1989||Virginia||10–3||6–1||T–1st||L Florida Citrus||15||18|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game. #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll. |
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
Coaching tree[edit | edit source]
Assistant coaches under Welsh who became college head coaches:
- Tom O'Brien: Boston College (1997–2006), NC State (2007–2012)
- Frank Spaziani: Boston College (2009–2012)
- Sparky Woods: VMI (2008–2014)
See also[edit | edit source]
- Legends Poll
- List of NCAA major college football yearly passing leaders
- List of NCAA major college football yearly total offense leaders
References[edit | edit source]
- "George Welsh Selected to College Football Hall of Fame". http://www.virginiasports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/040604aab.html.
- Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Inductees, George Welsh. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
- Johnson, Taylor (4 January 2019). "Legendary UVA football coach George Welsh passes away at 85". https://wset.com/news/local/legendary-uva-football-coach-george-welsh-passes-away-at-85.
- Sallee, Barrett (4 January 2019). "Former Virginia coach and College Football Hall of Famer George Welsh dies at 85". https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/former-virginia-coach-and-college-football-hall-of-famer-george-welsh-dies-at-85/.
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