- Don Coryell
Former SDSU & NFL Football Coach
San Diego State University
Don Coryell served as San Diego State University's head football coach for 12 seasons, leading the Aztecs to two undisputed national championships and a shared third national title. He remains the program's most successful and influential coach. Coach Coryell's innovative passing offense, known as "Air Coryell," became a staple not only among college teams, but in National Football League playbooks.
He has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame; Aztec Hall of Fame; and, in 2010, made the list of 15 finalists for induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.
In sports today, people measure a coach's impact by referencing his or her "coaching tree" - those assistants who have become successful head coaches with other programs. Few living coaches can claim a more impressive tree than Coach Coryell, who influenced NFL greats John Madden, Joe Gibbs, Ernie Zampese and Al Saunders.
San Diego State hired Coach Coryell in 1961 to pilot a team whose record was 2-12-2 the previous two seasons. With a pioneering passing game and a drive for excellence, he led the Aztecs to a 7-2-1 record in his first season. Eleven years later, the Aztecs had amassed a 104-19-2 record, won three national championships, three bowl games, seven conference championships and never posted a losing season. His teams enjoyed winning streaks of 25 and 21 games, and they had a remarkable stretch from October 1965 to November 1970 with a 55-1-1 record. Entering the 2009 season, he ranked 13th nationally in all-time NCAA winning percentages alongside such distinguished coaches as Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne.
Following his career at San Diego State, he was an NFL head coach for 13 seasons, leading the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers. His teams won five division titles and led the leagues in passing yardage on seven occasions. At the end of his coaching career, he was the only person to win at least 100 games at both collegiate and professional levels.
In recognition of his excellence as a coach, educator and mentor to young men, and his leadership, discipline, passion, innovation and athletic spirit, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Diego State University are proud to confer upon Don Coryell the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.