Former Missouri head football coach Robert "Woody" Widenhofer passed away Sunday night at the age of 77.
The Nashville Tennessean reported that Widenhofer suffered a minor stroke earlier this month. He was still in the hospital and preparing to begin rehabilitation when he suffered a second, more severe stroke Saturday night. He died a day later.
Widenhofer played linebacker at Missouri from 1961-64 under coach Dan Devine.
He began coaching in 1969 as Michigan State’s defensive line coach. Widenhofer was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973 and was a defensive coach with the franchise through 1983.
Widenhofer was considered one of the minds behind the Steelers’ famed “Steel Curtain” defense, which helped Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls in six seasons.
His first head coaching opportunity came with the United States Football League’s Oklahoma Outlaws before Missouri hired him to replace Warren Powers.
Widenhofer went a combined 12-31-1 and 8-20 in the Big Eight Conference in four seasons in charge of the Tigers.
He was relieved of his coaching duties after the 1988 season and replaced by Bob Stull. Widenhofer then coached six more seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns before returning to the collegiate level with Vanderbilt.
Widenhofer spent two seasons as the Commodores’ defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach in 1997.
He was at the helm of Nashville’s Southeastern Conference team for five seasons, amassing a 15-40 overall record, including a 4-36 mark in conference action.
Widenhofer’s coaching career came to a close with stops as the defensive coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana and New Mexico State.