May 16, 2006
CHARLOTTESVILLE - Former University of Virginia head football coach George Blackburn died in Dublin, Ohio, on Monday (May 15). He was 93.
Blackburn, a native of Columbus, Ohio, and a 1936 graduate of Findlay College, was head coach of the Cavaliers for six seasons (1965-70). He was named Atlantic Coast Conference Football Coach of the Year in 1968 when Virginia compiled an overall record of 7-3 and finished third in the ACC. It was the most wins and the first winning season for a UVa football team since the Cavaliers had an 8-2 record in 1952. His six Virginia teams compiled an overall record of 29-32.
Virginia's Bob Davis in 1966 and Frank Quayle in 1968 earned ACC Football Player of the Year honors with Blackburn as head coach. UVa led the conference in total offense, scoring offense and rushing offense twice under his guidance and in passing offense once. The Cavaliers also led the conference in passing defense twice, and in total defense and rushing defense once.
"I have the most wonderful memories of playing for Coach Blackburn," said Quayle, who was a halfback at Virginia and is the analyst on football broadcasts on the Virginia Radio Network. "I feel fortunate to have played for him. He was one of the great offensive minds in the game.
"I've been around football for 40 years and each year I recognize how far ahead he was. He was a brilliant offensive mind and I was the recipient in so many ways of his expertise."
Blackburn was also the head football coach at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (1948) and Cincinnati (1955-60) during his coaching career. His Miami University team compiled a 7-1-1 record and won the Mid-American Conference Championship. He held assistant coaching positions at Miami University, Cincinnati and Army. Blackburn was an assistant under Bill Elias for one season at Virginia before being named head coach in 1965. He served as an assistant under Sid Gillman at Miami University and Cincinnati, and under Earl Blaik at Army. He also coached nine years of high school football in Ohio.
After leaving Virginia, Blackburn was a professional football scout with the New Orleans Saints, the Houston Oilers and the New England Patriots of the National Football League.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Elaine Bright Blackburn of Friendship Village, Dublin, Ohio, and four children: Judith A. Epley of Pasadena, Calif; Janice E. Blackburn (Tony Hart) of Columbus, Ohio; John B. (Sandra) Blackburn of Cape Charles, Va.; and James W. (Ellen) Blackburn of Keuka Park, N.Y. Also surviving are eight grandchildren: Thomas E. (Kelly) Epley; Jacqueline E. Epley; Alison B. (Doug) Rocks; Jessica B. (Phillip) Wyman; James L. (Krista) Blackburn; Katherine C. Blackburn; Mary Clayton Blackburn; and Robert A. Blackburn.
The family will receive visitors at the Tidd Funeral Home in Hilliard, Ohio, 5265 Norwich Street from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday (May 17). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday (May 18) at 10 a.m. at St. Brendan The Navigator Catholic Church, 4475 Dublin Road, Hilliard, Ohio. Internment will be in St. Joseph's Cemetary, Lockbourne, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the George and Elaine Blackburn Scholarship Fund at the University of Findlay by sending directly to: Findlay College, c/o Development Office, George and Elaine Blackburn Scholarship Fund, 1000 N. Main St., Findlay, OH 45840 (419/424-4780).