Former Gamecocks coach Carlen dies at the age of 79

Former South Carolina football coach Jim Carlen, who led the Gamecocks to some of their most successful seasons from 1975-81, died Sunday at the age of 79.

Carlen led South Carolina to a 46-36-1 record, which included two eight-win seasons and three bowl trips. The 45 victories are the third most in South Carolina football history by a head coach. Carlen also coached the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner, George Rogers. In addition to being the school’s football head coach, he also served as the school’s athletics director until 1981.

After graduating from Georgia Tech and serving one season as an assistant coach at Cookeville Central High, he served in the U.S. Air Force for four years where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He then began his college football coaching career at Georgia Tech as assistant to Dodd, defensive coordinator and later as college athletics director.

Carlen’s coaching stints included Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Texas Tech and South Carolina. At these three universities, Carlen attained a 107-69-6 record. Carlen guided the Mountaineers from 1966-69 to a 25-13-3 record. In 1969, after leading the Mountaineers to a 10-1 record, which included a 14-3 victory over South Carolina in the Peach Bowl.

He then went to Texas Tech from 1970-74. The Red Raiders were 37-20-2 under Carlen’s reign. In 1973, he guided the Red Raiders to one of their most successful seasons ever with an 11-1 campaign. He was selected Southwest Conference Coach of the Year for the second time, NCAA District Seven Coach of the Year and Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year.

To add to Carlen’s long list of awards, former South Carolina Governor James B. Edwards presented Carlen with the Order of the Palmetto, one of the highest awards that can be given to a resident of the state of South Carolina. In 2006, he was inducted into the S.C. Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Cookeville High School Hall of Fame in 2007 and the National Football Foundation and College of Fame in 2008. Also in 2008, Carlen was inducted into the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Honor. He was recognized by the West Virginia University Fellowship of Christian Athletes for his numerous contributions and also received the Honorary West Virginian Award in 2009.

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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