Legendary Northern Iowa Football Coach Dies at 93
The University of Northern Iowa, along with several other Midwestern colleges, are mourning the loss of a phenomenal coach, who earned the nickname "Dr. Victory" due to his ability to turn around programs in freefall.
Football coach Darrell Mudra passed away on Wednesday, September 21st at the age of 93. Mudra lived a full life in both the conventional and football sense. Over the course of 35 years, he was the head coach at seven different universities, one Canadian Football League (CFL) team, and one basketball team. He also served as a positions coach.
Mudra won 14 championships in a wide variety of conferences, including one NCAA college division title, a division II title, along with multiple other championships in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the North Central Conference, and more.
After leading North Dakota State to the College Division in 1965 and Eastern Illinois to the Division II championship in 1978, Mudra assumed head coaching duties for the University of Northern Iowa Panthers in 1983. In only three years, Mudra led the Panthers to the NCAA Division I-AA Semifinal in 1985 after the team posted an 11-2 record. He'd do the same in his final year with the team, and coaching all together, in 1987.
An Omaha, NE native, Mudra retired from coaching with a 200-84-1 record, which was good enough to get him elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. Considering he took over programs such as Adams State, Western Illinois, and Eastern Illinois (not highly regarded football powerhouses), the record itself is even more eye-popping.
The "Dr. Victory" nickname came during Mudra's tenure at Eastern Illinois. He held a doctorate degree, but he also was able to propel struggling organizations to victory in just a matter of years. For example, the Eastern Illinois Panthers had a 1-10 season in 1997 before Mudra arrived. The following year, he galvanized them to a 12-2 record, and an NCAA Division II championship.
Another noteworthy detail about Mudra was his coaching style, which was just a little unorthodox. Instead of standing tall on the sidelines, as most head coaches do, Mudra operated from a press box, as if not to be an on-field distraction towards his players. Following his five-year stint at Northern Iowa, he retired from coaching. Him and his wife, Jean, lived in Crawfordville, FL until his death this week.
Long live Dr. Victory and his amazing accomplishments on and off the field.