Big 12 News

Former Sooners Player, Coach John Blake Dies at Age 59

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Baylor

Former Oklahoma football player and coach John Blake has died at 59.

Blake played noseguard under Barry Switzer and coached the program 1996 to 1998, before being replaced by Bob Stoops. According to Barry Switzer, Blake died of a heart attack while out walking.

“We are stunned and saddened by the news of Coach Blake’s passing,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a prepared statement. “He was never hesitant in displaying love for his family, his players or how much he valued the honor of being a Sooner. His legacy as OU’s first Black head coach in any sport is incredibly meaningful and will live on forever. We offer our heartfelt thoughts and our prayers to his family. He was a Sooner through and through.”


Current head coach Lincoln Riley added, “The thing I’ve always heard about Coach Blake is how much he loved and cared for his players and how those feelings were reciprocal. That’s such a profound element of the coaching profession — developing bonds with players that extend beyond the field. Our program is very saddened to learn of Coach Blake’s passing and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.”

Blake was an assistant at Tulsa, at Oklahoma and with the Dallas Cowboys before getting the OU head coaching job. He then went on to coach defensive line at Mississippi State, Nebraska and North Carolina.

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