Happy Birthday Cas!
June 12, 2001
Oregon's legendary football coach and athletic director Len Casanova celebrated his 96th birthday on Tuesday.'You've got to lead a good life to live this long,' the A.D. Emeritus told a gathering of athletic department staff members assembled in the building named in his honor. Casanova was born June 12, 1905. The following is a brief capsule of his career.
The University of Oregon athletic department was elated when it received permission to name its new athletic center at Autzen Stadium in honor of Len Casanova, the legendary football coach and former athletic director.
Casanova (6-12-05) is the second-winningest coach in the school's history and is celebrating a 50-year association with Oregon athletics.
Following 16 seasons as the Ducks' successful head coach and four more years as Oregon's director of athletics (1966-70), the 96-year-old Casanova has continued to serve the University's athletic department as a goodwill ambassador, a fund-raiser and assisting with special projects.
While coaching the Ducks, he guided teams to a combined record of 82-73-8, including a 47-31-4 ledger during his last eight years. During his successful tenure, he led Oregon to three post-season bowl appearances: the 1958 Rose Bowl, the 1960 Liberty Bowl and the 1963 Sun Bowl.During his 21-year collegiate head coaching career, which began at Santa Clara in 1946, he accumulated a mark of 104-97-10 and began his final season in 1966 as the 14th winningest active head coach in the country.
A former president of the American Football Coaches Association, Casanova began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Santa Clara, in 1936. While there, he also served as the University's head baseball coach for four seasons until joining the Navy in 1942.Following his discharge in 1946, he returned to Santa Clara as head coach for four years, accumulating a 21-13-4 record and an Orange Bowl victory over Kentucky before completing a one-year stint at Pittsburgh in 1950. He then returned to the West Coast in 1951 to begin his lasting relationship with Oregon.
Among the highlights of the Casanova Era were the guiding of a completely unheralded team to the '58 Rose Bowl, a team that ranked second in the country in total defense, and the presence at Oregon of some of the top players and coaches known in college football.Among his coaching associates with the Ducks were John McKay, John Robinson and George Seifert. Former players included Bob Berry, Dave Grayson, Jack Patera, Mel Renfro, George Shaw, Bruce Snyder, Willie West and Dave Wilcox.
Casanova's coaching reputation has not been limited to the Northwest. The Northern California native was elected to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1990, he was presented the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award by the AFCA for his outstanding contributions to the sport.
He also was given coaching assignments in three East-West Shrine games, two Hula Bowls and one College All-America contest.