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Sun Devil Football Mourns the Loss of Rich Olson

Sep 17, 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. – Sun Devil Football mourns the loss of longtime collegiate and NFL coach Rich Olson, who passed away earlier in the Summer.
 
Olson served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Arizona State under Dennis Erickson from 2007-2009. He spent time at the NCAA and NFL level during his coaching career, which spanned over three decades. Olson's success can be attributed to his creative offensive schemes and ability to develop quarterbacks.
 
While at Arizona State, Olson and Erickson orchestrated an incredible turnaround after taking over prior to the 2007 season. The Sun Devils went 10-3 in Olson's first season in charge of the offense, averaging over 32 points/game. Olson had the unit clicking from the start, as the Sun Devils scored 40 or more points in four of their first seven games. 
 
Quarterback Rudy Carpenter (2005-08) built upon an already productive career under Olson's tutelage, as his 2007 season was one of the best in program history. Carpenter's 246 completions are the seventh-most by a Sun Devil in a single-season while his 3,202 passing yards (6th) and 25 touchdowns (8th) also put him in the top-10 in single-season school history. 
 
After operating Olson's offense for two seasons, Carpenter left Arizona State with one of the top statistical resumes of any Sun Devil quarterback. His 799 career completions are the most in program history, while his 81 touchdown passes, 10,491 passing yards, and 1,309 attempts are the second most by anyone to wear the Maroon & Gold. 
 
The offense was multi-dimensional during Olson's tenure, as running backs Keegan Herring and Dmitri Nance teamed up to give opposing defenses fits. Herring became the 16th Sun Devil runner at the time to surpass 2,000 career rushing yards, doing it by rushing for over 400 yards in each of his four seasons. Nance nearly eclipsed 2,000 career yards himself, rushing for 1,934 yards and 16 touchdowns, spending three years in Olson's system.
 
Olson's Arizona State offenses produced several future NFL players, with his experience coaching at the professional level paying dividends during his stops in the collegiate game. Rudy Carpenter, Dmitri Nance, Ryan Torain, Mike Pollak, Kyle Williams, and Shaun Lauvao are just a few of the names that played for Olson at Arizona State that went on to make the NFL.
 
Prior to his time at Arizona State, Olson served as the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami for the 2006 season. Olson spent nine seasons on Dennis Erickson's staff, including stops with the San Francisco 49ers (2004), the Seattle Seahawks (1995-98) and at the University of Miami (Fla.) (1992-94). Olson served as the Arizona Cardinals' offensive coordinator in 2001 and 2002, where he coached former Sun Devil star Jake Plummer.

Before his return to Miami in 2006, Olson spent 10 seasons in the NFL. He followed Erickson from Miami to the Seattle Seahawks in 1994, and has also coached with the Washington Redskins (1999-2000), San Francisco 49ers (2004) and Minnesota Vikings (2005).

A 32-year veteran coach in college football and the NFL, Olson coached some of the top names in college and pro football. His extensive experience as an offensive tutor set him apart, having coached quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and offensive linemen in addition to having served as the offensive coordinator at three locations. He was Miami's wide receivers coach in 1992 and was an integral part of Gino Torretta's success when the quarterback won the Heisman Trophy that year. In addition, Olson has coached quarterbacks such as former Sun Devil Jake Plummer, Daunte Culpepper and Warren Moon in the NFL, in addition to star players like Trent Dilfer, Eric Dickerson and Craig James at the college level.

During his three-year tenure (1992-94) as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Miami, Olson helped direct a total of 10 players drafted into the NFL, including five wide receivers.

From 1984-1991, Olson coached under Jim Sweeney at Fresno State, where he tutored first-round draft choice Trent Dilfer, as well as Kevin Sweeney, who finished his college career as the nation's all-time leader in passing yardage (10,808), surpassing the mark previously set by Boston College's Doug Flutie. Additionally, Sweeney won back-to-back conference Co-MVP awards in 1985 and 1986. Also, while coaching the Bulldogs, Olson guided a total of 21 Honorable Mention All-America recipients as well as 1991 Big West Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Mark Barsotti.

Olson coached on Lou Holtz's staff at Arkansas for three years as the Razorbacks' secondary coach, as well as at Southern Methodist under head coach Ron Meyer. Olson served as an assistant offensive line coach at USC under John Robinson in 1977, and helped develop Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman Anthony Munoz.

Olson began his coaching career at Gahr High School in Cerritos, Calif. in 1971.

A native of Montebello, Calif., Olson was a quarterback at Washington State. He graduated in 1971 with a degree in physical education.

Rich is survived by his loving wife Cindy, daughter and son-in-law Kasey and Bryan Hutchinson, his mother Thelma "Pinkie" Olson, his sister and brother-in-law Lynda and Dick Pavlat, and many beloved family and friends.