Former UC Coach George Blackburn Dies

Former Bearcats Head Football Coach George Blackburn has passed away in a retirement home in Dublin, Ohio.

CINCINNATI, Ohio – Former University of Cincinnati head football coach George Blackburn has died in a retirement home in Dublin, Ohio.  He was 93.

Blackburn was the Bearcats' head coach for six seasons (1955-60), during which he compiled a 25-27-6 ledger.  His 1958 team posted a 6-2-2 record and was runner-up in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Blackburn  was associated with UC for 11 years.  After serving as head coach at Miami (Ohio) in 1948, the Columbus, Ohio native and Findlay College graduate (1933) joined Sid Gillman's staff at UC in 1949 as backfield coach, and was instrumental in developing the offenses that helped the Bearcats post a 42-11-1 record during this span.

After serving as an assistant at Army in 1954 under legendary coach Red Blaik, Blackburn returned to Cincinnati to succeed Gillman as head coach.  Eight Bearcats that he coached—Ken Byers (Giants, Vikings), Gene Johnson (Giants, Eagles), Ron Kostelnik (Packers), Ed Kovak (Bears), Jack Lee (Chiefs, Oilers, Broncos), Jim Leo (Giants), Max Messner (Lions, Giants, Steelers) and Joe Morrison (Giants)—went on to the NFL.

Blackburn closed his college coaching career in Virginia. He joined the Cavaliers as an assistant in 1964 and a year later was promoted to head coach.  He earned Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1968 after piloting Virginia to a 7-3 season.

Blackburn left Virginia after the 1970 season and served as a scout in the NFL for several years.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Elaine Bright Blackburn of Dublin, Ohio, and four children:  Judith A. Epley of Pasadena, Calif; Janice E. Blackburn (Tony Hart) of Columbus, Ohio; John B. (Sandra) Blackburn of Cape Charles, Va.; and James W. (Ellen) Blackburn of Keuka Park, N.Y.  Also surviving are eight grandchildren: Thomas E. (Kelly) Epley; Jacqueline E. Epley; Alison B. (Doug) Rocks; Jessica B. (Phillip) Wyman; James L. (Krista) Blackburn; Katherine C. Blackburn; Mary Clayton Blackburn; and Robert A. Blackburn.

The family will receive visitors at the Tidd Funeral Home in Hilliard, Ohio, 5265 Norwich Street from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, May 18 at 10 a.m. at St. Brendan The Navigator Catholic Church, 4475 Dublin Road, Hilliard, Ohio.  Internment will be in St. Joseph's Cemetery, Lockbourne, Ohio. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the George and Elaine Blackburn Scholarship Fund at the University of Findlay by sending directly to: Findlay College, c/o Development Office, George and Elaine Blackburn Scholarship Fund, 1000 N. Main St., Findlay, OH 45840 (419/424-4780).    

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