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Jim Sweeney
American football player and coach

Jim Sweeney

Jim Sweeney
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American football player and coach
Was American football player
From United States of America
Field Sports
Gender male
Birth 1 September 1929, Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana, USA
Death 8 February 2013, Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA (aged 83 years)
Star sign Virgo
University of Portland
Sports Teams
Portland Pilots football
The details (from wikipedia)


James Joseph Sweeney (September 1, 1929 – February 8, 2013) was an American football player and coach, the head coach at Montana State University (1963–1967), Washington State University (1968–1975), and California State University, Fresno (1976–1977, 1980–1996), compiling a career college football record of 201–153–4 (.567). Sweeney's 144 wins at Fresno State are the most in the program's history.

Early years

Born in Butte, Montana, Sweeney was the youngest of seven children of Will and Kate Sweeney; his father was a hard-rock miner who emigrated from Ireland. As a youth in Butte, he was a top pitcher and outfielder in baseball, and graduated from Butte Central Catholic High School in 1947.

Sweeney played college football as an end at the University of Portland in Oregon, and graduated in 1951. After his junior year, the school dropped football as an intercollegiate sport, and Sweeney spent his senior season of 1950 as a high school coach at Columbia High School in Portland.

Coaching career

Following graduation he returned to Montana and was a high school assistant at his alma mater, Butte Central, for a season. He was its head coach from 1952 to 1955, and at Flathead High School in Kalispell from 1956 to 1959. Sweeney moved up to the college ranks in 1960 as an assistant coach at Montana State in Bozeman, and was promoted to head coach in 1963. He compiled a 31–20 (.608) record and three Big Sky conference championships in his five seasons with the Bobcats, where one of his starting quarterbacks was Dennis Erickson. At Montana State, Sweeney is credited with convincing Jan Stenerud, a Norwegian on a skiing scholarship, to go out for the football team as a kicker. Stenerud went on to become the only "pure" kicker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His salary at MSU in 1967 was $15,000.

After his success in Bozeman, he moved up to the Pac-8 Conference at Washington State in Pullman, where he started with a one-year contract at $20,000 in 1968. He had only one winning season and compiled a 26–59–1 (.308) record in eight seasons. His team's most noteworthy accomplishment was the defeat of Rose Bowl-bound Stanford in 1971 to garner him NCAA District 8 Coach of the Year honors. After a disappointing conclusion to the 1975 season (winless in conference), Sweeney resigned at WSU a week after the season ended.

He was promptly hired at Fresno State, where he coached for two seasons before becoming a National Football League (NFL) assistant for two years. He spent the 1978 season with the Oakland Raiders in John Madden's final season, and the 1979 season with the St. Louis Cardinals under Bud Wilkinson, who was fired before the season's end. Sweeney returned to Fresno State as head coach in December 1979 for 17 more seasons; he compiled a 144–74–3 (.658) record and eight conference championships (PCAA/Big West and WAC) in 19 seasons. Sweeney retired from coaching following the 1996 season with 201 wins in 32 seasons.

Personal life

Sweeney was the father of 9 children: Jim Sweeney, Peggy Sweeney, Sheila Sweeney, Carol Sweeney, Mary Lou Dion Sweeney, Daniel Sweeney, Colline Sweeney, Patty Negrete Sweeney, and Kevin Sweeney, whom he coached at Fresno State. His wife and mother of all his children, Lucille (Cile) Carollo Sweeney, was his high school sweetheart from Butte; she died at age 57 in 1988 from an intracranial hemorrhage. He later married June Sweeney and they resided in Fresno. Two of his grandsons played Pac-10 football: Nate Fellner at Washington and Kyle Negrete at USC. Sweeney's grandson, Beau, played at California before transferring in 2011.

Sweeney died in Fresno in 2013 at age 83. He and his wife had recently moved to a senior living home due to his failing health, which included a stay at St. Agnes Medical Center.

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches AP
Montana State Bobcats (Big Sky Conference)
1963 Montana State 6–3 2–1 2nd
1964 Montana State 7–4 3–0 1st W Camellia
1965 Montana State 3–7 1–3 T–4th
1966 Montana State 8–3 4–0 1st L Camellia
1967 Montana State 7–3 4–0 1st
Montana State: 31–20 14–4
Washington State Cougars (Pacific-8 Conference)
1968 Washington State 3–6–1 1–3–1 7th
1969 Washington State 1–9 0–7 8th
1970 Washington State 1–10 0–7 8th
1971 Washington State 4–7 2–5 7th
1972 Washington State 7–4 4–3 T–3rd T–17 19
1973 Washington State 5–6 4–3 4th
1974 Washington State 2–9 1–6 7th
1975 Washington State 3–8 0–7 8th
Washington State: 26–59–1 12–41–1
Fresno State Bulldogs (Pacific Coast Athletic Association)
1976 Fresno State 6–5* 3–1 2nd
1977 Fresno State 9–2 4–0 1st
Fresno State Bulldogs (Pacific Coast Athletic Association / Big West Conference)
1980 Fresno State 5–6 1–4 T–4th
1981 Fresno State 5–6 2–3 T–3rd
1982 Fresno State 11–1 6–0 1st W California
1983 Fresno State 6–5 2–4 6th
1984 Fresno State 6–6 3–4 T–4th
1985 Fresno State 11–0–1 7–0 1st W California 16
1986 Fresno State 9–2 6–1 2nd
1987 Fresno State 6–5 4–3 T–2nd
1988 Fresno State 10–2 7–0 1st W California
1989 Fresno State 11–1 7–0 1st W California
1990 Fresno State 8–2–1 5–1–1 T–2nd
1991 Fresno State 10–2 6–1 1st L California
Fresno State Bulldogs (Western Athletic Conference)
1992 Fresno State 9–4 6–2 T–1st W Freedom 22 24
1993 Fresno State 8–4 6–2 T–1st L Aloha
1994 Fresno State 5–7–1 3–4–1 7th
1995 Fresno State 5–7 2–6 T–7th
1996 Fresno State 4–7 3–5 T–5th
Fresno State: 144–74–3 83–41–2 *
Total: 201–153–4
  • Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
  • Rankings from final AP Poll.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 27 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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