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Former MU coach Warren Powers dies at 80

  • Updated
Former MU coach Warren Powers dies at 80

Warren Powers, who coached Missouri football from 1978-1984, died late Tuesday night, former player Howard Richards announced in a tweet. 

The cause of Powers' death is unclear. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2014.

"First want to say thoughts and prayers are with the Warren Powers family," Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said on the SEC Football Head Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday. "Coach Powers, a former head football coach here passed away last night, and was a big part of our football program, history and heritage, and want to say our thoughts and prayers are with him."

His wife, Linda Powers, passed away at 73 on Sept. 21. 

Powers, who was 80, is one of the most successful coaches in MU football history, having led the Tigers to five bowl games, three of which they won. Missouri posted back-to-back 8-4 records in 1980 and 1981, and Powers finished his career 46-33-3. 

Head coach Warren Powers, celebrates with his team (copy)

Warren Powers celebrates with his team after winning 3-0 over Notre Dame, the previous year’s national champions, in his first game as head coach at MU.

His first game was a historic one, with the Tigers beating Dan Devine's fifth-ranked Notre Dame team 3-0 on Sept. 9, 1978, in South Bend, Indiana. Joe Montana was at QB for the reigning national champion Fighting Irish.

That same season, behind quarterback Phil Bradley, running back James Wilder and All-American tight end Kellen Winslow, the Tigers beat Nebraska 35-31 in Lincoln and topped LSU 20-15 in the Liberty Bowl. It would be another 25 years before MU would again beat the Cornhuskers.

The 1980 team also played in front of the biggest crowd in MU history, when 75,289 were in attendance at Memorial Stadium for the No. 9 Tigers' 29-21 loss to No. 17 Penn State on Oct. 4.

Head coach Warren Powers has guided (copy)

In this Missourian archival photo from Sept. 1982, head coach Warren Powers speaks with the Missouri football team. At that time, Powers had guided the Tigers to four straight bowl games.

Powers was involved in an NCAA infractions case against Missouri in 1979 for the school's use of funding to pay debt he accrued while negotiating his hiring for the head coaching position. 

He was an all-state high school quarterback in Kansas City and played football at Nebraska. He played for the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League from 1963-1968. 

Archive photo of Warren Powers helping run a drill during a practice

In this Missourian archival photo, then-Missouri head coach Warren Powers helps run a drill during a practice in April 1981.

Missouri head football coach Warren Powers

Missouri head football coach Warren Powers talks with quarterback Phil Bradley during drills in April 1981.

MU alum and former Golden Girl Linda Powers (copy)

MU alumna and former Golden Girl Linda Powers married football coach Warren Powers less than a year after the pair was set up on a blind date. Linda passed away a few weeks prior to Warren.

Warren and Linda Powers pose for a photograph (copy)

Linda and Warren Powers pose for a photograph in 2018. Warren Powers coached the Missouri football team from 1978 to 1984.

  • Missouri football beat reporter Studying print & digital sports journalism Reach me at emily.leiker15@gmail.com, on Twitter @emleiker or in the newsroom at 882-5720

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