Former Arizona Wildcats football coach Jim LaRue dies at 89

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Jim LaRue, who coached Arizona's football team for eight seasons and guided the Wildcats to an 8-1-1 record in 1961 and a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship in 1964 before becoming an NFL assistant, has died. He was 89.

The university announced LaRue's death Monday.

The Arizona Daily Star reported LaRue died Sunday night at an assisted living facility in Tucson. A cause of death wasn't immediately released.

LaRue coached the Wildcats from 1959-66 and had a 41-37-2 record.

He led the team to a 6-3-1 mark in 1964 and a share of the WAC title as Arizona, Utah and New Mexico all had 3-1 conference records that year.

But the Wildcats went 3-7 in each of the next two seasons and LaRue was replaced.

''We are saddened to hear the news of Coach LaRue's passing,'' Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said in a statement. ''He was a positive representative of our department and our football program. His teams and his legacy are an important part of our football program's history.''

LaRue later was an NFL assistant coach with Buffalo in 1976 and Chicago from 1978-89 and was on the staff of the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl championship team.

Born in Clinton, Oklahoma, LaRue was a halfback at Carson-Newman, Duke and Maryland from 1942-49 before getting into coaching.

He was a running backs coach at Houston in 1955-56 and took the Arizona job after a couple years away from football.

LaRue later was an assistant at Utah (1968-73) and Wake Forest (1974-75) and then headed to the NFL.

With the Bears, LaRue coached the secondary. Chicago went 15-1 in the 1985 regular season and shut out both playoff opponents to reach the Super Bowl in New Orleans, where the Bears beat New England 46-10.

Funeral services are scheduled for April 6 at Christ Church United Methodist in Tucson.

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