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Pat Sullivan
Biographical details
Born (1950-01-18) January 18, 1950 (age 72)
Birmingham, Alabama
Playing career
Head coaching record
Tournaments0–1 (NCAA D-I playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
1 SWC (1994)
1 SoCon (2013)
All-American, 1971
Heisman Trophy (1971)
Walter Camp Award (1971)
SWC Coach of the Year (1994)
SoCon Co-Coach of the Year (2012)
No. 7 Retired by the Auburn Tigers
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1991 (profile)

Patrick Joseph Sullivan (born January 18, 1950) is a former American football player and coach. An All-American quarterback for the Auburn Tigers, he won the Heisman Trophy in 1971 and then played six seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins. Sullivan was a head football coach at Samford University, a position he held from 2007 to 2014. He was previously the head football coach at Texas Christian University (TCU) from 1992 to 1997 and the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) from 1999 to 2006. Sullivan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1991.

College career

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Sullivan began his athletic career as a three-sport star at Birmingham's John Carroll Catholic High School. Although a talented baseball and basketball player, he chose to play football for Auburn University where he would become the starting quarterback in 1969 under the tutelage of head coach Ralph Jordan. Over the next three seasons, the 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) tall and 190 lb (86 kg; 14 st) Sullivan would break school and NCAA records for passing while leading the team to a 26–7 record. In 1970, he led the NCAA in total offense with 2,856 yards and set an NCAA record for most yards per play with 8.57. In his career, he was responsible for 71 touchdowns (53 passing/18 rushing) to tie the NCAA record. In his senior season, Sullivan completed 162 passes on 281 attempts for 2,012 yards and 20 touchdowns. This performance was enough to edge out Ed Marinaro for the 1971 Heisman Trophy. Also an excellent student, Sullivan was named an Academic All-American and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration in 1972. Sullivan finished his college career with 6,284 passing yards and 57 touchdowns, along with another 18 touchdowns on the ground. He was selected to play in the Senior Bowl, where he led the South to victory over the North and was awarded the game's Most Valuable Player.

Professional career

After college, Sullivan had a short professional football career. He was a second-round selection (40th overall pick) of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He played with the Falcons from 1972 to 1976 and then the Washington Redskins in 1976 and 1977. He played in only 30 games. In 1974, he started three games for the Falcons, losing all three. He completed 48 of 105 passes and one touchdown. In 1975, he threw for 3 touchdowns, completing 28 of 70 passes. He continued his career with the Washington in 1976. He left football to enter private business in Birmingham where he worked in insurance and as a tire company executive.

Coaching career

Sullivan spent five seasons doing radio color commentary for Auburn football games before joining the staff at Auburn in 1986 as quarterbacks coach under head coach Pat Dye. He worked with Auburn quarterbacks Jeff Burger, Reggie Slack, and Stan White during his six years at Auburn. During his time as an assistant Auburn won, or shared, three Southeastern Conference championships and had a four-game winning streak against archrival Alabama.

On January 2, 1992, Sullivan became the 27th head football coach of Texas Christian University, inheriting a probation-racked team. After two losing seasons, he led TCU to a 7–5 mark in 1994 to win a share of the Southwest Conference championship, the school's first SWC title since 1959. Following the 1994 season, prior to the Horned Frogs' appearance in the Independence Bowl versus Virginia, Sullivan agreed to become the head coach at Louisiana State University (LSU). However, LSU refused to pay the $400,000 buyout of Sullivan's TCU contract, and the Tigers hired Vanderbilt University coach Gerry DiNardo three days later.

The next season produced another winning record of 6–5 before TCU joined the Western Athletic Conference in 1996 and fell once again on hard times. Losing seasons in 1996 and 1997 resulted in Sullivan's resignation in October 1997 with an overall record of 24–42–1. However, he is best noted for recruiting LaDainian Tomlinson to play at TCU.

In January 1999, Sullivan became the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of UAB. He helped develop Darrell Hackney into the best quarterback in UAB history who was able to make it to the NFL as an undrafted free agent picked up by the Cleveland Browns. UAB's offense also featured wide receiver Roddy White, who later played for the Atlanta Falcons.

After neck surgery in September 2003, Sullivan was diagnosed with throat cancer by Dr. William R. Carroll (squamous cell carcinoma) and began chemotherapy and radiation treatments in December. In April 2004, doctors told him he was clear of cancer cells but he continues to be monitored for recurrence. Sullivan missed only one game in the 2003 season due to treatment but lost around 50 pounds over the course of his treatment.

On December 1, 2006, Sullivan was named head coach at Samford University, replacing Bill Gray. In 2008, the Bulldogs joined the Southern Conference and won the championship in 2013. He resigned after the 2014 season, his eighth season as coach.

Personal life

Sullivan is married to the former Jean Hicks of Birmingham and they have three children — Kim, and twins Kelly and Patrick, Jr.


Sullivan was selected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, class of 1981. In 1988, he was also a charter member of the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame. The football field house at Samford University was renamed in his honor.

Coaching tree

Assistant coaches under Pat Sullivan who became NCAA head coaches:

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
TCU Horned Frogs (Southwest Conference) (1992–1995)
1992 TCU 2–8–1 1–6 8th
1993 TCU 4–7 2–5 6th
1994 TCU 7–5 4–3 T–1st L Independence
1995 TCU 6–5 3–4 5th
TCU Horned Frogs (Western Athletic Conference) (1996–1997)
1996 TCU 4–7 3–5 T–5th (Mountain)
1997 TCU 1–10 1–7 8th (Mountain)
TCU: 24–42–1 14–30
Samford Bulldogs (Ohio Valley Conference) (2007)
2007 Samford 4–7 2–6 T–7th
Samford Bulldogs (Southern Conference) (2008–2014)
2008 Samford 6–5 4–4 T–4th
2009 Samford 5–6 3–5 6th
2010 Samford 4–7 2–6 7th
2011 Samford 6–5 4–4 5th
2012 Samford 7–4 5–3 T–4th
2013 Samford 8–5 6–2 T–1st L NCAA Division I First Round
2014 Samford 7–4 5–2 T–2nd
Samford: 47–43 31–32
Total: 71–85–1
      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.

Honors and awards

  • Heisman Trophy, 1971
  • Chic Harley Award
  • Sammy Baugh Trophy, 1970
  • Walter Camp Award, 1971
  • SN Player of the Year, 1971
  • All-American, 1970, 1971 (unanimous)
  • SEC Player of the Year, 1970
  • SEC Back of the Year-Birmingham Touchdown Club, 1970
  • SEC Back of the Year-Atlanta Touchdown Club, 1970
  • Gator Bowl Most Valuable Player, 1970
  • Sugar Bowl Most Valuable Player, 1971
  • Senior Bowl Most Valuable Player, 1972
  • College All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, 1972
  • Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
  • National Football Foundation Hall of Fame
  • Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame
  • Gator Bowl Hall of Fame
  • Senior Bowl Hall of Fame
  • College Football Hall of Fame, 1991
  • Southwest Conference Coach of the Year, 1994
  • Southern Conference Co-Coach of the Year, 2012

See also

  • List of NCAA major college football yearly total offense leaders


External links