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Jerry Claiborne (August 2, 1928 in Hopkinsville, KentuckymarkerSeptember 24, 2000 in Nashville, Tennesseemarker) was a college football coach, most notable as the head coach at Virginia Techmarker, Marylandmarker, and his alma mater of Kentuckymarker. He retired with an overall record of 179-122-8.

Early years

Claiborne attended the Hopkinsville High Schoolmarker and the University of Kentuckymarker and was named the College of Education’s Outstanding Senior. Claiborne played halfback under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant at the University of Kentucky. In 1950 he became the head football and basketball coach at Augusta Military Academy in Fort Defiance, Augusta County, Virginia. His teams won the Virginia State basketball championship in 1950 and the football championship in 1951. The following year he left to become Bryant’s assistant coach at Texas A&Mmarker and Alabamamarker before he moved up to become a head coach.

Head coach

Claiborne was head coach for the Virginia Polytechnic Institute from 1961 to 1970 with and overall record of 69-32-2. The Hokies would not be as successful in football again until current coach Frank Beamer, who played for Claiborne at Virginia Tech, built the program into a powerhouse in the mid-1990s.

When Claiborne began coaching at the University of Maryland, the Terrapins had only won nine games in the previous five years. Claiborne led Maryland to a winning season after only his second year with the team. He coached Maryland for ten years and ended with a 77-37-3 record, including an undefeated regular season in 1976, before losing to Houstonmarker in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Beginning in 1973, his teams made it to six consecutive bowl games. In 1980, he added one more bowl appearance for a total of seven. Under Claiborne, Maryland won the ACC Championship three times (1974, 1975, and 1976).

After the 1981 season at Maryland, Claiborne followed in the footsteps of Bear Bryant and went from College Park, Marylandmarker, to Lexington, Kentuckymarker; the home of the University of Kentucky. In Claiborne's case, Kentucky was his alma mater. The University of Kentucky had just come off of four straight losing seasons. They offered Claiborne the head coaching position largely to help clean up a program that had been racked by numerous recruiting violations during the tenure of previous head coach Fran Curci.

Claiborne took over as head coach of Kentucky in 1982. After starting with a losing season record of 0-10-1, he reached bowl games in his second and third seasons, posting records of 6-5-1 in 1983 and 9-3-0 in 1984 after which the Wildcats finished the season ranked #19 in the final AP poll. The Wildcats win in the 1984 Hall of Fame bowl over University of Wisconsin–Madisonmarker would be the Wildcats last until winning the Music City Bowl in 2006 over Clemsonmarker. Claiborne led the Kentucky program for eight years, ending with an overall record of 41-46-3. He retired after posting a 6-5 record in the 1989 season.

Head coaching record

Significant achievements

  • Claiborne coached four Academic All-Americans and eighty-seven all-conference academics.
  • Named the nation's Coach of the Year by the Sporting News in 1974.
  • Named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 1983.
  • Claiborne's Kentucky team won the College Football Association Academic Achievement Award for the highest graduation rate of 90% in 1989.
  • The University of Kentucky named Claiborne into its Alumni Hall of Fame in 1992.
  • In 1999 the Lexington, Kentucky's chapter of the National Football Foundation was named after Claiborne.
  • Claiborne was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Famemarker in 2000.
  • Retired with a lifetime record of 179-122-8, ranking him fourth among active college coaches in victories when he retired.

Famous quote

It was Jerry Claiborne who said: "Sam Cunningham did more for integration in sixty minutes than Martin Luther King did in twenty years." [256056] (After a 1970 42-21 loss in Birmingham to USCmarker, and having Cunningham score two touchdowns and gain 131 yards, the integration of the Alabama football team was accelerated.)

See also

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