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Darrell Murda, who preceded Bobby Bowden at Florida State, dies at 93

College Football Hall of Fame coach found success everywhere but with Seminoles
Darrell Mudra in 1968
Posted at 10:52 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 23:01:08-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — College Football Hall of Fame coach Darrell Mudra, who preceded Bobby Bowden at Florida State in the 1970s, has died.

The National Football Foundation announced that Mudra died Wednesday. He was 93.

Mudra's nickname was "Dr. Victory" because of his success at every level, coaching all his college games from the press box instead of on the sideline. He won the College Division national title at North Dakota State in 1965 and the Division II championship at Eastern Illinois in 1978.

He retired from coaching in 1988 with a career record of 200-81-4 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

Mudra spent his youth in Nebraska, growing up in Omaha and playing fullback at Peru State before working as a high school assistant in the state. His first college head coaching job was in Colorado at Adams State, where he was 32–4–1 with three conference titles and a Mineral Water Bowl victory.

He moved to North Dakota State in 1963 and took over a team that was 0-10 the year before. He won his first national title two years later and went 24-6 in three seasons with the Bison.

Mudra spent two seasons at Arizona, winning eight of his first nine games in 1968 and finishing 8-3 with a loss to Auburn in the Sun Bowl.

The lone blemish among his coaching stops was at Florida State, where he was 4-18 in two seasons before Bowden, who died last year, took over in 1976.

West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bobby Bowden photographed days before leaving for Florida State Seminoles in 1976
West Virginia head coach Bobby Bowden is shown in this Jan. 6, 1976, photo in Morgantown, W.Va., just days before he left for Florida State.

When Mudra came to Tallahassee in 1974, the Seminoles were coming off a winless season. Although Mudra's Florida State teams improved from one win in 1974 to three in 1975, there was a silent movement among school supporters to make a change.

About 70 people pitched in to quietly raise $95,000 in the hopes of luring a more prominent coach to Florida State.

Mudra, who remained in nearby Crawfordville after his retirement, expressed "deep regret" about leaving Florida State at the time of his ouster.

"No good end would be served if I were to question the decision, and it is in that spirit I accept it," Mudra said in a statement. "I wish the best possible for the future of the players and a deep concern for those who will continue here."

His successor, Bowden, went on to lead the Seminoles to unmatched success over the next 34 years, winning 315 games and two national championships, including 14 straight seasons of 10-or-more victories.

Mudra's other college stops were Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Northern Iowa. He also coached the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 1966.