Former Colorado football coach dead at 77

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Eddie Crowder, who spent nearly a half-century at the University of Colorado as a football coach, athletic director and mentor to generations of other coaches, died Tuesday night, the school announced. He was 77.

Crowder, who played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson, compiled a record of 67-49-2 in 11 seasons as Colorado's coach, from 1963 to 1973. He then served 11 years as athletic director.

He remained an active supporter of Buffaloes athletics until his death.

Athletic director Mike Bohn said CU has lost "a tremendous leader, coach, mentor and friend."

"He always seemed to be there at the right time and the right place with the right message whether it was for (current football coach) Dan Hawkins or myself," Bohn told The Associated Press. "He was the foundation of our program. It's a tough day for us all."

Bohn said Crowder had undergone bone cancer treatment in recent years.

Funeral plans were pending and the school was working on recognition programs for Crowder at the team's next home game, Sept. 18 against West Virginia.

Crowder's best season was 1971, when the Buffaloes went 10-2 and finished third in the national polls behind fellow Big Eight conference members Nebraska and Oklahoma.

"Coach Crowder has been a real blessing in my life," Hawkins said. "In such a short time he became a great mentor to me. Coach was a giver of his time, his wisdom, insight, and love. He had such a fondness for CU and Colorado football, particularly all of his former players.

"I will miss his gentle manner and the way he gracefully slid in and out of my daily existence. Eddie Crowder is truly one of the most special people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We will all miss him daily, but he will be there with us each time we run out behind (the buffalo mascot) Ralphie onto Folsom Field."

CU Chancellor Bud Peterson, a former Kansas State receiver who played against the Buffaloes in Crowder's last game as coach at Colorado, said Crowder "helped me greatly in understanding the Colorado sports landscape. I will miss his sage advice, his enthusiasm and his love of all things CU, as will our entire community."