Former Virginia Tech football coach Charlie Coffey dies

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Charlie Coffey, who brought a potent passing attack to Virginia Tech during three seasons as the Hokies' coach in the early 1970s, has died at age 81.

Coffey died at home Monday night in Shelbyville, Tennessee, the school said. He died after a long battle with cancer, according to the University of Tennessee, where Coffey was a three-year letterman and later an assistant coach.

In three years guiding the Hokies, Coffey led them to a 12-20-1 record, including a 6-4-1 record in 1972. That team was led by quarterback Don Strock, who led the nation in passing and set several school passing records that still stand, and tight end Mike Burnop, who caught a then-record 46 passes for 558 yards.

''Charlie was really an innovator as a football coach during that time. He and his staff were sharp minds, and they installed a style of play that really brought the excitement and energy back to Lane Stadium,'' Burnop, a member of the Hokies' broadcast team for nearly 30 years, said in a release provided by the school.

''Charlie also did some cutting edge stuff in terms of marketing, like with the checkerboard end zones and the orange jerseys. Those were his ideas. Today, that type of stuff is common, but back then, it was a really advanced way of marketing.''

Coffey spent five years as the defensive coordinator under Frank Broyles at the University of Arkansas before taking the Hokies job. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach from 1963-65 at Tennessee. His other coaching stops included George Washington and Southeastern Louisiana State.

Coffey played offensive guard and defensive tackle at Tennessee. In 2010, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2013, he was honored with Honorary Member status by the University of Tennessee Lettermen's ''T'' Club - the highest honor bestowed by the organization.

After his final season at Tech in 1973, Coffey entered the private sector, working in the trucking industry. In 1981, he founded Nationwide Express, a trucking company, and his two sons run the business today.

He is survived by his wife, Mai, and four children - Suzanne Mielke, Cindi Johnson, Mike Coffey and David Coffey - 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

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