Tuesday, December 30, 2014

3 stories of interest to Linfield Football fans, posted 12/30/2014

College football: Lebanon's Alex Hoff excels at Linfield

By Bob Lundeberg, Albany, Ore., Democrat-Herald

The awards keep piling up for Alex Hoff.

The former Lebanon High School standout has received honor after honor for his breakthrough junior season with the Linfield football team.

Hoff, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end, was a unanimous Division III first-team all-American after recording 27.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks in 12 games.

Linfield made it all the way to the semifinals of the Division III tournament before falling at Wisconsin-Whitewater, 20-14, on Dec. 13. The Warhawks went on to win their second straight national title and their sixth in eight seasons.

“When we got into camp and saw how athletic this team was, we knew we could put it together and have a good year,” said Hoff, a two-year starter and three-year letter winner for the Wildcats. “We had athletes all over, front line to back. A bunch of guys that were the best from wherever they came from.”

Hoff certainly fits that criteria.

A 5A second-team all-state selection as a senior at Lebanon, Hoff went to Linfield primarily for the opportunity to play with his half-brother, Tyler Steele.

In 2013, Steele (a redshirt-senior defensive tackle) and Hoff (a sophomore end) both started for the Wildcats. It was the first time Steele, a West Salem alum, and Hoff got to play together.

“My brother went down with a knee injury my freshman year, so that gave me the opportunity to come back sophomore year and play with him,” Hoff said. “It was very cool to get to do that.”

Hoff, a business management major, recorded 32 tackles and six sacks as a sophomore pass rush specialist while weighing around 205 pounds.

He added about 25 pounds of muscle during the offseason to improve his run defense.

“I slapped on that weight to hold up better against the run, and I thought that was a strong point of my game this year,” he said. “The extra weight really added to my game.”

The end result was an increase in strength with no loss in quickness.

Hoff overwhelmed opposing offensive tackles all season to win the Northwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

He was also named to the Associated Press’ Little All-America first team, which includes Division II, Division III, and NAIA players.

“Alex had the goal this year of trying to be an all-American, and I told him last offseason that was something I thought he was capable of,” Linfield defensive line coach Jackson Vaughan said. “He has a tremendous burst off the ball, which is the most important thing for a pass rusher. He has great change of direction, and it’s very difficult to get him on the ground. He just has that ability to catch himself and continue to run and make progress.”

Hoff said people routinely ask if he’s considering a professional football career.

While his upcoming senior campaign at Linfield is the No. 1 focus, Hoff admitted his mind occasionally wanders ahead.

“So many doors can open in life, and it’s always hard to predict it,” Hoff said. “I would love to play football as long as I can, and I know Linfield has a nice connection with some teams over in Germany. Maybe go over there for a year or two and postpone real life for a bit. We’ll see. It’s always a dream.”

What dreams may come

By Robert Husseman of the McMinnville, Ore. News-Register/N-R

One of Curtis Terry’s first calls out of the firefighting academy led him to a dead body.

Terry joined a crew of Black Butte Ranch Rural Fire Protection District officers at the scene of an accident on Highway 20, east of the Santiam Junction and northwest of the Black Butte Ranch resort community, in July 2006. A motorcyclist took one of the highway’s many sloping turns too fast. His motorcycle skidded out from under him.

A tractor semitrailer ran over the motorcyclist.

“That was a real eye-opening experience,” Terry said. “I think that’s kind of when I knew that I could do that, just because I could handle the situations.”

Terry was a talented athlete at McMinnville High School, playing football, wrestling and running high hurdles in track for the Grizzlies. Upon graduating in June 2006, “when he got out of school, I don’t think he had anything set in stone,” his father, Mike Terry said. A friend’s older brother had gone through the Black Butte Ranch RFPD scholarship program, which sounded intriguing enough to Curtis.

“He gets a purpose and that’s what he’s going to do,” Mike Terry said.

Black Butte Ranch RFPD trainees enroll in Central Oregon Community College and pursue dual associate’s degrees in fire science and emergency medical services. Curtis Terry underwent a rigorous three-month “academy” program with the RFPD, which paid his COCC tuition. Terry was hired on as a full-time officer in January 2010 after completing his degrees.

Terry and the other candidates lived in the fire station at Black Butte Ranch and responded to calls, primarily of a medical nature. Some involved death or serious injury, such as the motorcyclist. Some involved, well, other things.

“You get a lot of bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and things like that,” Terry said. “They do scavenger hunts for these parties, and usually somewhere down the line it involved something where you have to give a kiss to a firefighter or take a picture. Things like that.”

According to his parents, he had never showed an inclination for the firefighting profession before signing up for the academy. After completing the COCC program, he couldn’t see himself doing anything else.

“I think I took that for granted. The opportunity that I was given, I just blew it,” Terry said. “I was 21. I was still immature, just making bad decisions, making selfish decisions.”

It was 4 p.m. on June 18, 2010, when Terry drove his 1999 Saturn along Highway 219, just outside St. Paul. Terry had been drinking beforehand and was on his way to a friend’s farm.

“Their driveway’s right off the highway,” Terry said. “I don’t remember much. I remember seeing a car coming towards me. Thought I could make it. Turned in front of him – obviously, couldn’t.”

Terry was taken by helicopter to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland to treat minor injuries sustained in the wreck. The driver of the other vehicle also sustained injuries.

“I think it was just the balance of the lifestyle I was living and days off from work – that was what we did,” “Every chance I got when I wasn’t working, I was taking advantage of it. Whether I was out on a boat or out on a lake, camping somewhere out in the woods, up in the mountains, doing whatever, usually whatever I was doing involved alcohol. It just kind of got out of control.”

Following the incident, Terry was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and assault in the third degree – the latter, a Class C felony. He faced up to six years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. His employment with the Black Butte Ranch RFPD was terminated shortly thereafter.

Terry agreed to a plea deal with the Marion County Circuit Court. He pled guilty to the DUII and assault charges and was sentenced to 17 days in jail and three years probation. (The assault charge has since been reduced to a misdemeanor.) Terry was required to complete an alcohol treatment program and pay $1,904 in fines. Finally – and most critically for his job prospects – Terry lost his driving privileges for five years.

“At that point, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do,” Terry said. “I knew I wanted to get back into the fire service. I just didn’t know how I was going to get there.”

He considered joining the military. His parents advocated for him to attend college. Instead, Terry moved into a home in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland with four high school friends. He drove a forklift at a Mor furniture warehouse, working as many as 16-hours a day.

“I’d get the paycheck and it would be so disappointing,” Terry said. “It was a high-stress environment because everything’s about turnover rate.”

Terry returned to his mother Paula’s house in McMinnville in the winter of 2011 to combat an illness. (Mike and Paula Terry are divorced.) It was then that he decided – not relented – to go back to school.

“I did everything I could to not come back home,” Terry said with a laugh. “just because I didn’t want to be that same story of everyone that leaves and then comes back home. I explored all my options. I looked at all the state schools in the area.”

Terry factored football into his college decision. He had maintained his strong physical condition from his firefighting days. He picked up an application for Eastern Oregon University, an NAIA school in La Grande, but backed out at the last minute.

“His choice to come to Linfield was 75 percent to play football and 25 percent to get the degree,” Paula Terry said. “Now, he’s not going to walk away when football’s over.”

Paula Terry is an administrator at the Nicholson Library on the Linfield campus, and Curtis was eligible for free tuition to the college. The Terrys learned that Linfield’s tuition remission program expired once the child in question turned 24, an age Curtis reached on August 19, 2012. As he considered other schools, the financial savings of living in his hometown and his familiarity with the campus environment won out.

“He’s paying for it to go here,” Paula Terry said.

When Curtis tried out for the football team, familiarity was an extra benefit. His coach at Mac High, Greg McAnally, had joined the Linfield staff as an assistant, then working with the defensive line.

“That class that he was in at McMinnville High School, they were a fun class and they were hard-working,” McAnally said. “Those guys looked up to him and he did a good job in our program. Watching him come back in was kind of neat because, when he first came in, he was kind of the older guy.”

College football took its toll on Terry physically. “That was some pain my body hadn’t felt in a long time,” he said. “There were some muscles there that I hadn’t used in years.” Compounding matters, he tore the labrum in his left shoulder in fall camp and missed the 2012 season.

Injuries took their toll yet again in 2013; Terry played in five games, recording eight tackles and one sack. He was unsure about his eligibility to play beyond the season; when Linfield matched up against Wisconsin-Whitewater in the NCAA Division III semifinals, Terry was on the sidelines, contemplating his future.

“Once it kind of set in that we were going to lose, I just had this feeling that it wasn’t done yet, it wasn’t over,” Terry said.

It turned out that he could play another year under a perverse condition. Terry had to drop out of Linfield for the spring semester to preserve one final semester of eligibility, a true senior season. He was not allowed to participate in football-related activities but kept close tabs with his teammates off the NCAA’s clock.

Terry could have walked at Linfield’s graduation ceremony on June 1. He had one semester’s worth of courses to complete his bachelor’s degree in exercise science.

Instead, he didn’t want to take the spotlight away from his mother.

Paula Terry started working at Linfield 20 years ago as a part-time clerk in the school’s accounting office. Lacking a college degree, she began taking “a class a year” toward a bachelor’s in social and behavioral sciences, which she obtained this past spring.

“What am I doing with it? I’m keeping my job,” Paula said with a smile.

So Paula walked at the ceremony in the green between Melrose Hall and the President’s House with members of the football team whom she had known since their freshman seasons.

“He was pretty excited to see her getting that done,” said Brynnan Hyland, a senior in 2014 who walked in the June ceremony. “That was cool, to see him really excited with her. That was fun, to see her son, who is older than all of us, graduating after her.”

For the last three months, Terry has lived a low-key lifestyle. He worked out and played football. He spent time at a pair of work-study jobs. He rode his bicycle to and from campus, and wherever he needed to go. He and his roommates – defensive end Alex Hoff and defensive tackles Trey and Ty Farber – sat down for “family dinners” on the Fridays before games, eating spaghetti.

“He’s a normal friend, a normal teammate, except he’s older and takes more ice baths,” Trey Farber said.

Terry is happy to lend a sympathetic ear to his wayward younger teammates. When former Wildcats safety Colin Forman was arrested for DUII in May 2013, Terry said that he and Forman discussed their struggles with alcohol.

“A lot of guys just think it can’t happen to them,” said defensive coordinator Jackson Vaughan, Terry’s position coach. “Curtis and (Forman) are good people. They made bad choices in bad situations.”

On the field, Terry started 11 of 13 games at defensive end opposite his roommate, Hoff. He recorded 24 tackles (nine for loss) and 3.5 sacks, but his most impactful moment came in the 2014 Division III semifinals against Wisconsin-Whitewater. Terry blocked an extra-point attempt in the third quarter, a play that could have proven vital if the Wildcats scored and converted their kick. Terry’s name was never mentioned on the ESPN3 national broadcast.

Even in the midst of a football season, Terry has been reminded of what he has lost, what he is working to regain. If the Linfield football team travels north on Interstate 5, the team bus takes Highway 219 outside Newberg before heading east on McKay Road.

“A mile away from where you turn,” Terry said, “is where my accident was.”

Story "Top 10: notable deaths" in 12/30/2014 McMinnville, Ore., News-Register/N-R includes "Yamhill County lost some prominent citizens in 2014" and the following ...


Steve Davis, who went from being a Linfield College football star to a major fundraiser for the college’s athletic programs, died April 22 from complications related to treatment he was undergoing for leukemia.

He was 63. After graduating in 1972, Davis went to work for his family’s business, Cherry City Electric, in Salem. He later worked for McMinnville’s Farnham Electric. Most recently, he worked for Daktronics, a manufacturer and installer of electronic scoreboards and signage. He helped launch the Wildcat Open, a golf tournament played annually at Michelbook Country Club that serves as the athletic department’s top fund-raiser. He had headed up tee sponsorship sales in recent years.

In 1986, Davis collaborated with Ron Davison and Jeff Kizer to build the concession and restroom facility adjacent to the baseball, football and track and field complex. He helped coordinate operation of the concession stand on days events took place. In 1988, Davis was honored with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ District 2 Distinguished Service Award. That same year, he received the college’s Alumni Service Award. He was inducted into the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame for meritorious service in 2003.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Linfielder Lance Trantham's Wildcat helmet popular on Oregon ski slope

When Linfielder Lance Trantham went downhill skiing during winter break 2014, his white ski helmet, adorned with Wildcat decals, was popular.

"It was exciting when I made my ski helmet into a replica of a Linfield football helmet," he said. "And, it was more exiting while skiing when some people yelled 'Go, Wildcats!' to me when they saw the Cats on the hat."

A 1992 Linfield grad, Lance and his wife, Susan (Lewis) Trantham, a 1990 Linfield grad, live in Newberg with their daughters Jordan and Taylor.

Photo taken by Taylor at Oregon’s Mount Hood Meadows ski area.

Lance is a grad of Oakridge, Ore., High School, where he played football, basketball and participated in track & field for the OHS Warriors.

At Linfield, Lance was a starting defensive tackle for Ad Rutschman coached Wildcat teams in the 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991 seasons. 

He was an All-Northwest Conference first team defensive lineman for the Cats in 1991. One of Linfield's other all-NWC first teamers that season was defensive back Joe Smith, now Linfield head football coach.

Lance teaches physical education in McMinnville School District 40 at Sue Buel Elementary School, which is adjacent to a field on which the Linfield football team practices.

During Linfield home football games on Maxwell Field, Lance assists Jackson Vaughn, Linfield football defensive coordinator.

As this is written (Dec. 2014), in 28 years, Lance (as a player or coaching assistant) has missed only two Linfield home football games at Maxwell Field.

Photo (below) of Lance by Wildcatville on 12/29/2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Something about which Wildcat fans can cheer: Linfield's Ooney Gagen makes appearance in mystery book written by alum Bill Grandey

According to the U.S. Croquet Association, the game of croquet (pronounced crow-KAY) is a tradition of backyard recreation in America.

Wikipedia explains that croquet is an international sport involving "hitting plastic or wooden balls with a mallet through hoops (often called "wickets" in the United States) embedded in a grass playing court."

Now that you know croquet, you need to know about "Murder, Mystery and Croquet," a newly (Nov. 2014) published ebook. The print edition became available January 2015. Its author is Linfielder Bill Grandey, Class of 1965, who lives in California and Portugal.

As a Linfield student, Grandey -- born in Alaska and grew up in San Mateo, Calif. -- was a member of the Linfield cheer squad. As such, he got to know Paul Durham, Linfield athletic director and coach. And, he also knew Durham's favorite athlete, Ooney Gagen. The Durham-edited sports pages of the McMinnville News-Register often included columns and stories about and photos of Gagen.

An ATO fraternity member, Grandey recalls reading the News-Register in the original ATO house, across Baker Street/99W from the Linfield campus. In Durham's articles, "Ooney could play any position better than anyone and would often save the day for Linfield," said Grandey.

The book includes a quote from Gagen and is also interspersed with information on Linfield sports going back to the earliest days of the college, which was founded in 1858.

Gagen, who played croquet despite being busy as a Linfield student and student-athlete, is with amazing company in the book. His croquet enthusiasm was shared by Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Adolph Hitler and Mata Hari.

Ruth Stotter, author of "Murder on the Croquet Lawn," praises Grandey's work. "Who would have dreamed this innocent appearing game has historical and global true stories with the suspense of fiction detective novels! I applaud and recommend this entertaining and compelling book," she wrote.

Learn more about the book at the Grandey Mysteries website

Have questions for author Bill Grandey? Email him at bgkm2@yahoo.com

This originally posted 12/23/2014 and updated 1/26/2015.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

D3football.com Coach of the Year Joe Smith

Congratulations Linfield's Joe Smith,
D3football.com 2014 Coach of the Year. On the same All-America team 
of which Coach Smith is a member, see how Linfield football players Jeremy Girod, Jordan Giza, #55 Alex Hoff, Jeremy Patrick and Steven Schultz were honored. 

Bios from Linfield Athletics website:



Wildcatville photos from 2014 season

Friday, December 19, 2014

Linfield Baseball history on display

Go to Linfielder Art Larrance’s Raccoon Lodge on Southwest Beaverton-Hillsdale in the Raleigh Hills part of Portland to see Linfield Baseball History on display. The NAIA World Series banner, won by the Roy Helser-coached 1966 Linfield Wildcat baseball team is on a lodge wall. The team, of which Larrance was a catcher, was the first in the college’s history to win a national title. A rendition of the banner is on display (next to a rendition of the 1971 Linfield baseball team World Series banner) on a wall in Ted Wilson Gym on the Linfield campus in McMinnville.

National Championship Banner 
Linfield College 1966 Baseball Team

About This Banner:

This banner hung in Riley Gym at Linfield College until the gym was replaced by the new Wilson Gym.At that time all the National Championship banners wereReplaced with a standard banner style. This banner was purchased by Art Larrance from the Linfield Athletic Department for a donation of $100.

Photos taken by Wildcatville 12/18/2014 (Art Larrance on the right, Bob Ferguson on the left) after a Linfield Cardinal Circle lunch at Raccoon Lodge. On the same day, Art shows a placard promoting the World Series (held in St. Joseph, Missouri) in which Linfield won its 1966 title. Photos taken 12/19/2014 show renditions of the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame member 1966 and 1971 Linfield Baseball teams NAIA World Series banners. The 1971 team was coached by Ad Rutschman.

Also see …

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Linfielder Craig Howard, SOU head football coach: Self-proclaimed 'love-em-up' coaching style

Southern Oregon's inspirational coach Craig Howard: 'He could have been Billy Graham'
By Nick Daschel for The Oregonian 12/17/2015

Alabama's Nick Saban is the blueprint for college football coaching success today in America. His buttoned-down, no-nonsense approach has become popular for coaches looking to copycat a winning philosophy.
It's not the only gold medal approach, however. Southern Oregon's Craig Howard is on the verge of winning back-to-back NAIA national championships with his self-proclaimed "love-em-up" coaching style.
Though the 63-year-old Howard knows his Xs and Os, he wins over players, parents, administrators and fans with inspiration.
After Howard spoke at a banquet two days prior to last year's NAIA championship game against Marian (Indiana) in Daytona Beach, Florida, fans from both teams, so moved by his words, rose and gave him a standing ovation.
NAIA Championship game
Southern Oregon vs. Marian (Indiana), 3 p.m. Saturday, Daytona Beach, FloridaWatch: ESPN3
SOU viewing parties in the Portland area:
On Deck Sports Bar & Grill, 225 SW Broadway, Portland
Generations Bar & Grill, 21900 SW Alexander Lane, Sherwood
Main Event Sports Grill, 3200 SE 164th Ave, Vancouver

During Southern Oregon's first-round playoff game in November against Kansas Wesleyan, Howard was so impressed with a play made by wide receiver Jeremy Scottow, he took Scottow into the stands to his parents -- during the game -- to tell them what a great play their son had made. Then Howard returned to the field to coach.
Legendary Oregon Tech basketball coach Danny Miles, who coached football with Howard at OIT during the 1980s, said prior to games in the locker room, Howard would often dim the lights, turn on "Rocky" music at a high level, then introduce the starting lineup to the team.
"The kids would leave the dressing room crying," Miles said.
"He could have been Billy Graham if he wanted to be a preacher. He can fire people up," said Gary Mires, Howard's high school football coach at Grants Pass. "He should be a preacher, in fact, the way he can really get a lot of people behind him."
During his playing days at Grants Pass High School and Linfield College, Howard only wanted to be a football coach. Howard hung on to the profession through good times and bad, from programs that folded to winning state and national championships, from high school and college, working in a handful of states, though mostly Oregon and Florida.
In Oregon alone, Howard spent time coaching college at Southern Oregon, Oregon Tech, Oregon and Portland State, and high school at Roseburg, Bend and Jesuit.
Howard's coaching career started at Roseburg in 1971. After a 16-year stint in Florida, where he was best known as Tim Tebow's high school coach, Howard is back in the Rogue Valley, where he plans to end his career at Southern Oregon.
Knee injuries have slowed Howard over the years, and he talks with a bit of Southern twang. His idea of cursing is saying "goll dang." Miles says Howard looks a little like "a country bumpkin, but don't let that fool you. He's on top of everything."
"He's an old-time coach, blustery and he gets on the kids, but in a way you appreciate and understand," said Howard Morris, Oregon Tech's retired athletic director.
Miles recalls a 1988 NAIA playoff game against Pacific Lutheran, where Oregon Tech trailed 35-7 at halftime. Howard, then the defensive coordinator, stormed into the locker room.
"Craig looked at the players, and said, 'We've done too many things. You're confused.' He took the scouting report and threw it against the wall. Said we're going to play base defense," Miles said. "Went out and won 56-35."
The foundation of Howard's coaching career, as is the case with most, started as a player. Mires remembers Howard as "that little red-headed kid who got after you," a linebacker who once had 35 tackles in a game against Medford.
Howard played college football at Linfield, where he started as a 165-pound linebacker. Howard got his starting shot when all-conference linebacker Virgil Ripley went down with an injury. Ripley never got his job back, as Howard went on to start the remainder of his career, and was three times honored as Linfield's Most Inspirational Player.
All the while, Howard had a coaching career in mind. While Howard was still a student at Linfield, Mires said every time he went to a coaching clinic in Oregon, there was Howard standing in the background, "writing stuff down."
"I really believed at age 22, I was going to be head coach at Notre Dame before I was 30," Howard said.
At an early age, Howard learned the key to college football coaching was the kitchen table.
"He walks into the kid's house, and by the time he walks out the door, he has won over the mom," Morris said.
Howard left the Southern Oregon area in 1992 after Oregon Tech dropped football. A college job in Alabama materialized, and quickly flopped, and Howard had had enough. Howard was off to Florida to coach high school football, and after a while, thought he would remain there until retirement. Howard was on quite a roll, particularly at Nease High School, where during a five-year stretch he not only coached Tebow, but 45 players who went on to play Division I football.
It was during his Nease days that Howard met then-Florida coach Urban Meyer. In a roundabout way, that relationship is what helped pave the way toward Howard's current gig at Southern Oregon.
Meyer and Howard talked for hours about coaching philosophy, and many of those thoughts ended up in Howard's 300-page manifesto he simply called "The Plan." That book, made up of Howard's coaching thoughts, is what he handed to SOU athletic director Matt Sayre before interviewing for the job in 2011.
Howard was unaware the Raiders job had opened at the end of the 2010 season, but an Ashland-area campaign was brewing. Miles and Morris separately called Howard in Florida to make him aware, then pitched Howard to Sayre.
Sayre knew something was up when one day he listened to a voice message "from someone who sounded like a 15-year-old ... Hi, my name is Tim Tebow..."
Howard blew away the SOU hiring committee not only with "The Plan," but a power point presentation outlining his thoughts on restoring Southern Oregon football. Sayre says it wasn't a tough call when the decision was made to hire Howard.
At the forefront of Howard's philosophy heading into the Southern Oregon job were two things. We're going to love our players. And we're going to win a national championship.
"Someone called me the Pied Piper because I said we're going to win a national championship here. They thought I was crazy," Howard said.
The mantra of loving the players caught some of Howard's assistants by surprise, mostly because they hadn't thought of their job that way. Among Howard's demands are no name calling, and no cussing at practice.
"It's changed how some of them coach," Howard said. "If we're to develop a program at Southern Oregon, there has to be a lot of love between the players and coaches. You don't get paid a lot in small college football, so you'd better like the people you're around."
Following a 5-5 season during Howard's first year at Southern Oregon, the Raiders have had four consecutive winning seasons and three playoff appearances. SOU is 40-11 the past four years, with two NAIA championship game appearances.
During a coaching career of more than four decades, Howard has been here, there and everywhere. But there was never a doubt he could coach.
"I never got to the point where I'm going to have to sell insurance," Howard said. "I love coaching and I love football. I love this so much, I can't believe they pay me."

Craig Howard, Southern Oregon University football coach, dies at age 64
By Tim Brown, Oregonian, 1/20/2017

Craig Howard, the Southern Oregon University head football coach who led the Raiders to an NAIA National Championship in 2014, has died at age 64. The news was announced by the school on Friday.

Southern Oregon's inspirational coach Craig Howard: 'He could have been Billy Graham'

Southern Oregon football Craig Howard has coached more than a dozen high school and college teams during his career spanning more than four decades

A complete release from Southern Oregon University:

Craig Howard, the head football coach who captivated the Rogue Valley while raising the bar at Southern Oregon University and earned the love of his team for the family culture he instilled, passed away Thursday night in his home. He was 64.

"He is with God now," said his wife, Valerie.

The Howard family has asked for privacy but will announce services in the coming days. Student group grief counseling will be available from 3-5 p.m. Friday in the Rogue River Room.

Howard's singular enthusiasm for the game and optimism about a program that averaged three wins in the eight seasons prior to his arrival turned heads soon after he was hired on Feb. 9, 2011. His lofty promise was a national championship; it took him less than four years to deliver in 2014, when the Raiders won a school-record 13th game to capture their first NAIA title in Daytona Beach, Fla.

By the end of the night, he delivered on another promise he'd made at the beginning of that week - stripping down with his team and taking a triumphant plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, their first act as champions.

"Coach Howard was energized, passionate and as full of love as ever," SOU Director of Athletics Matt Sayre said. "He loved his team, his coaches, the recruits he and his staff were talking with and signing, and - above all - his family.

"He was an amazing man. He was an inspiration to all those who knew him. He created a legacy with the lives he had such a positive impact on. He molded men of character, strength and honor and always placed that above winning football games. We will miss him dearly, but are thankful to have had him as our friend, mentor, coach and role model. We are all better people for having Coach Craig Howard in our lives."

Howard was a product of Grants Pass and a 1974 graduate of Linfield College. He compiled a record of 50-23 with the Raiders, giving him the best win percentage (.685) in school history. In his second season, he led the Raiders to the 2012 Frontier Conference title and their first NAIA postseason appearance in 10 years.

Prior to winning the 2014 championship, the Raiders had never been past the second round of the 16-team playoff. Howard was named the Rawlings NAIA Coach of the Year for the feat, and a year later he brought the Raiders to Daytona again. During their back-to-back runs to the title game, the Raiders knocked off two top-ranked teams, a second-ranked team and a third-ranked team - all on the road.

Howard started his collegiate coaching career as a defensive coordinator at Oregon Tech and Portland State. He got his first head job in 1991 at Oregon Tech, where he went 8-13 in two seasons. Before his return to the Rogue Valley, he went 76-23 as a head high school coach in Florida from 2003 to 2010. At Nease High, where he mentored future Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, he went to three championship games and won the 2005 state title.

Howard spent his final hours Thursday doing what he loved: recruiting, and familiarizing future Raiders with the "Character, Strength and Honor" mantra he popularized at SOU.

He is survived his wife, Valerie; his daughters Amy and Emily; sons Bo, Jordan and Ryan; and five grandchildren.

Craig Howard, Southern Oregon football coach who dies at 64, is remembered for passion and enthusiasm

By Nick Daschel, Oregonian, 1/20/2017

Craig Howard may have been great with football Xs and Os. Might have been average. Who knows? Because for players, coaches and others who knew Howard, the 64-year-old Southern Oregon coach who died Thursday night, his love for life and football overshadowed everything.

"Being around him, you were just a happier person," said former Raiders' quarterback Austin Dodge, who helped lead Southern Oregon to the NAIA national championship in 2014.

Danny Miles, the former Oregon Tech basketball coach who retired last year after winning more than 1,000 games, once coached football with Howard at Oregon Tech. Miles said it was common for Howard to whip the football team into such a frenzy in the locker room "that you'd come out with a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes."

"He's the great motivator. He was really special," Miles said. "Kids just went to war for him."

During his third year at Southern Oregon in 2013, Howard took the Raiders to Montana to play national power Carroll College. The Raiders made a furious rally, scoring the game's final three touchdowns but came up short of the win. Miles recalls eating dinner that night, and texting congratulations on a good effort to Howard.

"He said, 'We would have won the game, but not all my kids believed,'" Miles said.

It was the mental game, as much as the physical game, that gave Howard's teams their edge. Southern Oregon played in back-to-back NAIA championship games in 2014 and 2015, and did things during his six-year tenure that have never been accomplished in Raider football history.

"He always said, the reason we won the national championship is, the kids believed. He really had kids believing. Several times they'd come back and win games, when they were down 20 points in the third quarter," Howard said.

Howard's high school coach at Grants Pass, Gary Mires, once said "He could have been Billy Graham if we wanted to be a preacher. He should be a preacher, in fact, the way he can really get a lot of people behind him."

Howard graduated from Grants Pass and played football at Linfield, where he graduated in 1974. He spent nearly two decades coaching Oregon football in high school (Roseburg, Bend, Jesuit) and college (Southern Oregon, Oregon Tech, Oregon, Portland State) before leaving the state.

Howard coached high school football for 16 years in Florida. Howard routinely churned out Division I talent during his Florida run, most notably quarterback Tim Tebow, who went on to lead University of Florida to two national championships. Howard was a Florida high school trendsetter, thriving with a spread offense in a state that was largely wing-T and power football.

But there was a homecoming in 2011, when Howard returned to Southern Oregon to take over a Raider program that had been mired in irrelevance for years. Howard won over the SOU hiring committee with a plan that included a power-point presentation, and a bold proclamation that the Raiders would win a national title within five years of his hiring.

As it turned out, Howard needed only four years. A big part of the Raiders' drive to the 2014 national title was Howard winning over Dodge, who transferred from Central Washington to Southern Oregon in 2012. Dodge went on to set nearly every NAIA career passing record, and won national player of the year honors in 2014.

"He changed my life," Dodge said of Howard. "He wasn't just a coach, he was a great role model, a great man. Most of all he was a great friend. Any of his players, we could go into his office and talk to him, man to man, as a friend. That sense of friendship and sense of family, that's why he was such a great leader."

In a statement, Southern Oregon athletic director Matt Sayre said "Coach Howard was energized, passionate and full of love as ever. He loved his team, his coaches, the recruits he and his staff were talking with and signing, and above all, his family. ... we were all better people for having Coach Howard in our lives."

Howard was 50-23 in six years at Southern Oregon, and 5-6 this past season. The Raiders qualified for the NAIA playoffs three times during his tenure, the only football postseason appearances in Southern Oregon history.

The loss of Howard leaves a sizable hole in Southern Oregon athletics.

"This shocks a lot of people," Miles said. "Southern Oregon was big in Ashland, but never got into Medford much before Craig got there. Craig did a great job of doing camps in Klamath Falls and Medford. He got the whole Rogue Valley involved."

Howard is survived by his wife, Valerie, daughters Amy and Emily, and sons Bo, Jordan and Ryan. Services are pending.

According to ….
--Linfield College = Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.), Health and Physical Education/Fitness 1970-1974
--United States Sports Academy Master's degree, Sports Management 1991-1992
Click on image below to see entire article from Oregonian Jan. 12, 1982.