Bill Walsh Selected as 2008 Recipient of Amos Alonzo Stagg Award
Former San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Head Coach Bill Walsh has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the AFCA’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Award.
The award, which honors those “whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football,” will be presented, posthumously, to Walsh at the AFCA Awards Luncheon on January 9 during the 2008 AFCA Convention in Anaheim, California. He was awarded the Stagg Award shortly before his death on July 30, 2007, by AFCA First Vice-President, Tyrone Willingham of the University of Washington, who passed along a note from Walsh to the AFCA membership.
Walsh stated, “I am overwhelmed upon hearing that I am to receive the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award. It is both an honor and a privilege to acknowledge this, but very importantly, it is an opportunity to be involved in the fellowship of your great organization. The fraternity of American football coaches is the finest association I have ever experienced.”
“When the Stagg Award committee nominated Coach Bill Wash to be the 2008 recipient of the Stagg award, I had the privilege of informing him that he would receive this award.” AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff said. “With Coach Walsh’s passing, America lost one of its greatest coaches. The AFCA and our membership are saddened by the loss of Bill Walsh, but we are so happy that through this award, he knew his great contributions to our sport were recognized by his association.”
Widely considered one of the most brilliant and innovative football minds to ever coach, Walsh spent 15 years as a head coach in the college and professional ranks: five years during two different stints at Stanford and 10 years with the San Francisco 49ers.
Walsh was named head coach of the 49ers in 1979 and led the franchise to Super Bowl titles in 1981, 1984 and 1988. He earned an overall record of 102-63-1 with the 49ers, and guided the team to three NFC Championship wins and six NFC Western Division titles. In seven of his last eight years as head coach, Walsh’s San Francisco teams won 10 or more games and advanced to the NFC playoffs. During his 10 years as the head coach, he and his coaching staff perfected the style of play known popularly as the West Coast offense.
Walsh earned many awards during his tenure in San Francisco. He was named AP, UPI, Sporting News and Pro Football Weekly NFL Coach of the Year in 1981 after the 49ers’ first Super Bowl triumph. He was also named UPI NFL Coach of the Year in 1984 after leading San Francisco to its second Super Bowl title. In 1993, Walsh earned the NFL’s highest honor when he was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
Walsh began his coaching career at Washington High School in Fremont, California. He then served as an assistant in college, first under Marv Levy at California-Berkeley, then with John Ralston at Stanford.
Walsh began his pro coaching career in 1966 as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders. As a Raider assistant, Walsh was groomed in the vertical passing offense of Sid Gillman. Walsh would later modify his own offensive philosophy to favor a predominantly horizontal passing approach, which he called the West Coast Offense.
Walsh moved to the expansion Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, serving under Paul Brown for seven seasons as one of the architects of the team’s offense. He left the Bengals after the 1975 season and served as an assistant coach for Tommy Prothro with the San Diego Chargers in 1976. Walsh then moved for the first of two tenures as head football coach at Stanford, from 1977 to 1978. He earned a 17-7 overall record in his two years on “The Farm,” with victories in the Sun Bowl and Bluebonnet Bowl, respectively.
Walsh returned to Stanford in 1992 as head coach after spending the three previous years as a broadcaster of NFL games for NBC. His 1992 squad finished the season with a 10-3 record and beat Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl. Walsh stepped down as head coach in 1994. He returned to the San Francisco front office in 1999 and worked as the vice president and general manager for three years. Walsh stayed on as a special consultant with the team until 2004, when he was appointed as special assistant to the athletic director at Stanford. He spent the 2005 academic as the interim athletic director until a replacement was found.
Walsh is an active motivational speaker and has taught classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also the author of a number of books, including “Building a Champion: On Football and the Making of the 49ers” and “Bill Walsh: Finding the Winning Edge.”
Walsh is survived by his wife, Geri, and two children, Craig and Elizabeth; his sister, Maureen, and two grandchildren.