Former Colorado coach Crowder passes away

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Former Colorado coach Eddie Crowder, who worked for nearly a half-century in college athletics, died at his home in Boulder, Colo., Tuesday night. He was 77.

Crowder played quarterback at Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson and posted a 67-49-2 record in 11 seasons as Colorado's head coach from 1963-73. He then served 11 years as athletic director and remained a big presence around the Colorado athletic program for the rest of his life.

Crowder passed peacefully with his family by his side at Exempla Health Center in nearby Lafayette after checking into the hospital Monday with respiratory problems. Earlier this decade, he had beaten non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma into remission.

"What a blessing he was to all of us," said Kate, his wife of nearly 20 years. "The pain of my loss is overcome with the joy of having had 20 fabulous years with a man who adored me and whom I adored even more."

Crowder took five Colorado teams to bowl games, most notably a 1971 team that finished third nationally behind conference rivals Nebraska and Oklahoma.

He played at Oklahoma from 1950-52.

Here are some quotes from Oklahoma officials about his mark on the football program:

"Sooners everywhere are deeply saddened by the death of Eddie Crowder. He was one of my personal heroes dating back to my childhood days and became a good friend and adviser after I returned to the university as president. He was a true gentleman and worthy role-model for all Sooner athletes. He was especially helpful in providing me with personal advice in the selection of Joe Castiglione as athletic director and Bob Stoops as football coach. He will be greatly missed by the OU family. We extend our condolences and love to his family and friends."

-- University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren

"We had lost to Eddie's team in the state finals so I had worked up a pretty good dislike for that smart aleck from Muskogee by the time I got to OU. It tells you a lot that we then became close friends. I really feel like I have lost a brother. He was so special. He was the best man in my wedding and I sang in his wedding. I really liked me when I was around Ed. He brought out the best in everyone and made you feel good about yourself. He knew all about us. I would venture to say that most of the people you talk to about Ed today considered him their best friend. He made you feel special. This is a real sad moment."

-- Merrill Green, Oklahoma teammate and roommate of Eddie Crowder

"I have heard many of the former Oklahoma players talk about how much Eddie was like his coach here, Bud Wilkinson. His strengths were his intelligence and his personality. And of course he was a man of very strong character. When you spent time with Eddie, regardless of how many times you had been with him, you always left feeling more impressed than you were before. He was just a cut above, a winner. I was a young head coach when we competed and Eddie always had a competitive program. We turned that competitive relationship into a meaningful friendship. I will certainly miss him."

-- Former Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer

"We have lost a man of great wit and wisdom, but most of all character, in the passing of Eddie Crowder. The loss is felt not only by Eddie's immediate relatives, but also by Sooners everywhere, the University of Colorado, and so many associated with intercollegiate athletics. The word 'presence' comes to mind when you think about Eddie. He changed every room he ever walked into, and he changed it for the better. We grieve with his wife, Kate, and the rest of Eddie's family and friends, but we also celebrate the blessing and enrichment we received by knowing him."

-- Oklahoma Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione

"Eddie was just the nicest guy there ever was. He truly cared about people. He was a wonderful physical talent, a wonderful mental talent and a true leader. You knew Eddie was going to do the right thing. He led through example. He knew how to motivate and people enjoyed the way he led and appreciated him for it. Eddie wanted to be like Bud (Wilkinson), he adored him, and they were alike but Eddie was still Eddie. He was just a very, very good man."

-- Dick Ellis, Oklahoma teammate of Eddie Crowder

"Eddie was four years ahead of me and it was a great thrill to go to Norman in those days and watch the great Sooner teams play. I played quarterback in high school and Eddie was your idol at that time. He was that great faker, the great runner of that offense. I never thought he would come back and coach us, but he did and it was a thrill. I learned so much from him, not just football, but about life and how to treat people. He was the best man in my wedding. We were lifelong friends. He was a great guy and he had such a great view of life."

-- Jay O'Neal, former Oklahoma player, close friend and business associate of Eddie Crowder

"Everybody liked Eddie. He was a great player and a great leader, and all of the players from that era, Billy Vessels, Buck McPhail and all the rest, thought so much of Eddie. He just had such a dynamic personality and was so much fun to be around. I can't say enough good things about him. He and his wife, Kate, stayed at our house any time they came back here and we were very close. He was a great player, a great personality, a fine coach and a very good man."

-- Claude Arnold, teammate of Eddie Crowder at OU and quarterback of the 1950 national champions

"Eddie was running the team when I got here and he was such a great leader and a very well-liked guy. He then went on to be a very good coach. Eddie had all of that personality and you always felt like he was really pulling for you and everyone else on the team. He was really a special guy."

-- Buddy Leake, Oklahoma teammate and roommate of Eddie Crowder

"He was one heckuva quarterback and an excellent leader. Eddie was so confident. We knew that when he called a play, it was the only play to run. He had an excellent grasp of the game."

-- J.D. Roberts, 1953 Outland Trophy winner and teammate of Eddie Crowder