College football suffered a major loss this week. Johnny Majors, the legendary former coach of Tennessee and Pitt, passed away on Wednesday.
Major was 85 years old, and passed away at his home in Knoxville. He captured a national championship in his final year of his first stint at Pitt, in 1976. From there he went to Tennessee, where he won three SEC titles in 15 seasons.
North Carolina head coach Mack Brown is one of the true elder statesmen in the coaching community. He did not coach with Johnny Majors at any point, but he landed his first head coaching job at Appalachian State in 1983, and wound up heading to Tulane and North Carolina for the first time while Majors carved out his legacy in Knoxville. The two had a close coaching relationship.
Brown sent a message via Twitter, following Majors’ death. He called him a “buddy,” and one of the college football coaches that he looked up to. From the UNC head coach:
We lost another coaching giant today in Coach Majors. He was my buddy and someone I looked up to in the profession. Sally and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
— Mack Brown (@CoachMackBrown) June 4, 2020
Majors was a star tailback for Tennessee as a player, earning All-American honors in 1956. He was named the SEC’s Player of the Year in both 1955 and 1956.
After a brief professional career in the CFL, Majors returned to Tennessee as a graduate assistant in 1957. He went on to assistant coaching stints at his alma mater, Mississippi State, and Arkansas, before landing his first head coaching gig at Iowa State.
As head coach of the Cyclones (1968-72), Pitt Panthers (1973-76; 1993-96), and Tennessee (1977-92), Majors went 185–137–10 during his career.