Former OU player, head coach John Blake dies at 59

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Former University of Oklahoma football player and head coach John Blake passed away on July 23.

He was 59-years-old.

Blake made a name for himself while he was a student at the University of Oklahoma and took the field as a noseguard for the Sooners from 1979 to 1982.

After leaving the game, Blake took a job as an assistant coach in Tulsa before returning to campus to become OU’s defensive line coach.

He became well-known across the nation after joining the Dallas Cowboys and winning two Super Bowls as their defensive line coach.

After his time coaching in the NFL, he returned to Norman and became head coach of his former team from 1996 to 1998. Following losing seasons, he was then replaced by Bob Stoops.

Although his tenure as head coach didn’t result in a winning record, he is often praised for his strong recruiting efforts that led to Stoops’ early success. He was also the school’s first Black head coach in any sport.

“I join the entire Sooner Nation in mourning Coach Blake’s passing. His years of service to our University and Sooner football were critical building blocks to our program’s success and the impact he had on our student-athletes is indelible. My sincerest sympathies and prayers are with the Blake family,” said OU President Joseph Harroz, Jr.

“We are stunned and saddened by the news of Coach Blake’s passing. He was never hesitant in displaying love for his family, his players or how much he valued the honor of being a Sooner. His legacy as OU’s first Black head coach in any sport is incredibly meaningful and will live on forever. We offer our heartfelt thoughts and our prayers to his family. He was a Sooner through and through,” said OU Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione.

“The thing I’ve always heard about Coach Blake is how much he loved and cared for his players and how those feelings were reciprocal. That’s such a profound element of the coaching profession — developing bonds with players that extend beyond the field. Our program is very saddened to learn of Coach Blake’s passing and we extend our deepest condolences to his family. Everything I know about him is that he loved being a Sooner,” said OU head coach Lincoln Riley.

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