June 30, 2006
OXFORD, Ohio -- Members of Miami University's athletic family expressed feelings of shock and sadness Friday morning with the arrival of the tragic news that Randy Walker, a former player and head coach for the Red and White and the head coach at Northwestern University since 1999, had passed away during the night.
Walker, a native of Troy, Ohio, was a standout tailback for Miami during a run of unprecedented success from 1973-75. During those three seasons, the Red and White posted a combined record of 32-1-1 while winning three straight Mid-American Conference Championships and three consecutive Tangerine Bowls. Walker finished his career with 1,757 rushing yards and was named the team MVP and a second-team all-MAC selection following the 1975 campaign.
After being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals following his graduation in 1976, Walker continued his involvement with Miami's football program as first a graduate assistant and then running backs coach. Walker followed then-head coach Dick Crum to North Carolina prior to the 1978 season, spending 10 seasons with the Tar Heels and two seasons as running backs coach at Northwestern before returning as Miami's head coach in December of 1989.
During his nine seasons as Miami head coach, Walker breathed new life into a struggling program and paved the way for the Red and White's current run of success. Walker finished his Miami head coaching career by posting five straight winning seasons--a string that has now reached 12--and leading the team to an impressive 10-1 record in 1998 that included an upset of No. 12 North Carolina. He was named head coach at Northwestern in 1999, leaving as the winningest head coach in Miami history with a record of 59-35-5 (.621).
Following are some of the thoughts expressed by the Miami athletic family on Coach Walker's passing:
"Miami's athletic family is saddened by the passing of Randy Walker. Our thoughts are with Coach Walker's family and his family at Northwestern University. He was a prominent figure on the college football landscape, and his legacy lives on in the fine men he mentored and shaped during his life-long commitment as a college coach. More than being a great coach, he was a great person."
Director of Athletics, Miami University
"The Miami community mourns the loss of one its finest ambassadors in Coach Walker. His impact on Miami and its football program as both a player and a coach was profound and paved the way for where we are today. He will be sorely missed. Our sympathies go out to his wife, Tammy, his family and the entire Northwestern community."
Head Football Coach, Miami University
"This is a great loss for the Cradle of Coaches, Miami University and college football. Though Randy Walker was a good football coach, I will remember him more as a great human being who understood what intercollegiate athletics were truly about. He always kept a good balance between life and football, and his impact went beyond the sport. Wins and losses were secondary to what he expected from his players both academically and as good people."
Former Head Football Coach, Miami University and Northwestern University
"Randy Walker is one of the finest individuals I've encountered in my life. He was a model family man, an honest man and a hard worker. You always knew where you stood with him. This is a tragic loss for anyone who ever truly knew the man."
Associate A.D., Miami University--Former Miami Teammate, Miami Football Administrator
Randy Walker (1954-2006)