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Utah Athletics Mourns the Passing of Jim Fassel

Jun 8, 2021

The Utah Athletics family is mourning the passing of former Utah head football coach Jim Fassel, and extends its condolences to the Fassel family. Fassel served as the Utes' head coach from 1985-89 after previously coaching the quarterbacks and receivers in 1976. His head coaching career included seven seasons leading the NFL's New York Giants (1997-2003), during which time he was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1997.
"We express our deepest sympathies to the family of Jim Fassel," said Mark Harlan, Director of Athletics. "Coach Fassel played a significant role in the proud history of the Utah Football program, and mentored some of the program's most prolific offensive performers. His legacy will always be remembered here at Utah."
Two of Fassel's teams currently rank in the top 10 for single-season total offense at Utah (1988, 5,795, 4th; 1989, 5,293, 9th) and the 1988 team still holds the school record for offensive yards per game (526.8).
"Jim Fassel was a staple in the football community," said Kyle Whittingham, Utah Football Head Coach. "We are privileged to have him as part of our Utah Football family and are saddened to learn of his passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time."
Fassel guided the school's all-time leading passer, Scott Mitchell (1987-89), to 8,981 career passing yards and mentored running back Eddie Johnson, whose all-time career rushing record, set in 1988 (3,219), stood for 31 years until broken by Zack Moss in 2019. At the end of Fassel's head coaching tenure at Utah, two of his pupils also held the top two positions in career receptions and yards, with tight end Dennis Smith (1986-89) ranking first in receptions (156) and second in yards (2,168), and Carl Harry (1986-88) ranking first in receiving yards (2,283) and second in receptions (149).
Fassel won his first five games as head coach at Utah, and completed the 1985 season with a record of 8-4, best among his five seasons at the helm, en route to a 25-33 overall record.
The native of Anaheim, Calif., also previously served as offensive coordinator at Weber State (1977-78) following his year as a Utah assistant coach, then moved to Stanford in 1979, initially serving as the wide receivers and running backs coach (1979-80) before taking over as offensive coordinator from 1981-83. Most notably during that stint he mentored Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.
Fassel went on to serve offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the New York Giants (1991-92), offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos (1993-94), quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders (1995) and offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals (1996) before becoming the Giants head coach.
Following his Giants head coaching stint, Fassel joined the Baltimore Ravens organization as senior offensive consultant (2004) before a promotion to offensive coordinator (2005-06). His final coaching position was in the United Football League, leading the Las Vegas Locomotives from 2009-12, and winning the first two UFL Championship games in 2009 and '10.