Former Fresno State, Lions coach Darryl Rogers dies

Detroit Lions coach Darryl Rogers, right, talks to quarterback Eric Hipple during an NFL football game, date not known. Rogers, who coached Michigan State to a share of the Big Ten title in 1978 and later took the helm for the Lions, has died. He was 83. The Lions said Rogers' family confirmed his death Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (Detroit News via AP)

Former Fresno State student-athlete (1955-56) and head football coach (1966-72) Darryl Rogers passed away Wednesday at the age of 84.

Darryl Rogers coached Michigan State to a share of the Big Ten title in 1978 and later took the helm for the Detroit Lions.

The Lions said Rogers' family confirmed his death Wednesday.

Rogers coached Michigan State from 1976-79, going 24-18-2. The 1978 team, which included star flanker Kirk Gibson, won its final seven games to finish tied for first in the conference.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Darryl Rogers and his family at this most difficult time," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. "Coach Rogers won the 1978 Big Ten championship at Michigan State and was, in many ways, an offensive pioneer in college football. I was honored to have had the opportunity to talk to him a number of times throughout my time here and he was always very supportive. He loved Michigan State and will forever be a Spartan."

Rogers also coached at Arizona State from 1980-84 before heading to the NFL. He was with the Lions from 1985-88.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Darryl," Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said. "On behalf of me, my family and the entire Detroit Lions organization, I would like to extend our sincere sympathy to his wife, Marsha, and the Rogers family."

Rogers played wide receiver and defensive back at Fresno State and became the coach there in 1966. He also coached San Jose State from 1973-75 before taking over at Michigan State.

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Rogers' family statement

"We are heartbroken to confirm the news that Darryl Rogers has passed away from natural causes on July 11 at the age of 84.

"Darryl was a truly exceptional man of God and a loving husband, father, and grandfather.

"During this difficult time, we take comfort in knowing that Darryl touched the lives of so many during a truly extraordinary life as a friend and coach. While we mourn our loss, we can too celebrate Darryl's achievements on and off the field as a steadfast advocate for student-athletes, athletes, and to members of the communities that he served.

"To his families at Michigan State, Arizona State, Fresno State, San Jose State, and the Detroit Lions, know that Coach never lost his passion for competition and sport and rooted for you fervently to the end of his life.

"We hope his legacy serves as an example to young people everywhere to work hard, to be relentless in the pursuit of their goals, and to be selfless in serving causes greater than themselves."

As a player, Rogers was a star end for Fresno State during the 1955 and 1956 campaigns. In his initial season, the Long Beach native, was second in the nation among college pass receivers. Rogers' performance earned him First-Team All-Coast recognition. In his second season, Rogers again headed the team in pass receptions and scored two touchdowns. He also logged four interceptions and returned them for 107 yards.

He earned his bachelor's degree in 1957 and his master's degree in 1964, both in physical education from Fresno State.

While coaching for the Bulldogs, Rogers led Fresno State to a California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship in 1968 as well as bowl games in 1968 and 1971. Rogers owned a 43-32-1 career record at Fresno State, leading the 'Dogs to six winning seasons of his seven at the helm of the program.

Rogers coached one season at Cal State-Hayward (1965) before Fresno State, and after his tenure with the Bulldogs he went on to coach at San Jose State (1973-75), Michigan State (1976-79) and Arizona State (1980-84). He moved over to the NFL ranks from 1985-88, coaching the Detroit Lions.

In his 20 seasons as a collegiate coach, he compiled a 126-77-7 record. Rogers was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1977 and National Coach of the Year by Sporting News in 1978.

He was named to the 2019 College Football Hall of Fame ballot on June 4. The announcement of the 2019 Class will be made Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Rogers is survived by his wife, Marsha, and daughters, Stacy and Jamie.

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