AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former Texas Longhorns head coach Fred Akers died on Monday at the age of 82, according to his family.
Akers was diagnosed with dementia in 2011.
Akers took over the Texas program from Darrell K Royal, leading Texas for 10 seasons from 1977 to 1986. In total, Akers spent 19 seasons during a 37-year coaching career with the Longhorns. He was Royal’s co-offensive coordinator at Texas from 1966 to 1974.
Akers had the tough task of following a Texas legend but led the Longhorns to three Cotton Bowls and within a win of potential national championships in 1977 and 1983.
In 1977, Akers won NCAA Division 1 coach of the year with Heisman Trophy winning running back Earl Campbell. Texas entered its Cotton Bowl showdown with Notre Dame as the No. 1 team in the country, but the Longhorns lost to the No. 5 Fighting Irish 38-10.
Campbell, who won the Heisman Trophy in Akers’ first season, said Akers was a great leader for the Longhorns that doesn’t get enough credit for his accomplishments.
“There is so much to say about the relationship I had with Fred. As a coach, he believed in me more than I did when he took over the team. I remember running for over 200 yards one evening in College Station and he told me that the Heisman was all mine. He was so well dressed and carried himself in such a smooth way, too, I am really going to miss him. His wife, Dianne, is a special lady and I want to send my condolences to her and his entire family. My brothers and I tell people all of the time to go back and look at the talent Fred coached at The University. Not sure if he gets the proper acknowledgment that he deserves, but he did a lot of great things for Texas Football,” Campbell said in a statement.
In 1983, the No. 2 Longhorns lost to No. 7 Georgia in the Cotton Bowl, 10-9, coming just short of another national championship season. Akers won two Southwest Conference championships and experienced one losing season in 1986, which ultimately turned out to be his last with Texas. Akers closed his Longhorns resume’ with an 86-31-2 record.
Akers coached Purdue for four seasons before ending his college football coaching career in 1990.