Spartan Nation Legend and Former All-American Al Dorow Passes Away At Age 80

Michigan State

As a two-year starter at quarterback, he compiled a 17-1 career record, including a perfect 9-0 in 1951 en route to the National Championship.


Photo Courtesy of MSU SID.
Photo Courtesy of MSU SID.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Former Michigan State All-American Al Dorow, who quarterbacked the Spartans to a perfect 9-0 record and the 1951 National Championship, died Monday, Dec. 7. The Haslett, Mich., resident was 80.


Born Nov. 15, 1929, in Imlay City, Mich., Dorow earned three letters from 1949-51 for legendary head coach Clarence “Biggie” Munn. As a two-year starter at quarterback, he compiled a 17-1 career record, including back-to-back Top 10 finishes in 1950-51. The 6-foot, 175-pound Dorow won his last 15 starts in a row. He finished his collegiate career as Michigan State’s all-time leader in pass completions (125), pass attempts (259), passing yards (1,875) and touchdown passes (19). Dorow accounted for 26 total TDs, including four scoring runs and three TD receptions.


As a junior in 1950, Dorow threw for 654 yards and five scores while leading the Spartans to an 8-1 record, including a 14-7 victory at third-ranked Michigan.


As a senior in 1951, he completed 64-of-114 throws for 842 yards and nine TDs while producing wins over three ranked opponents: No. 17 Michigan (25-0 in Ann Arbor), No. 7 Ohio State (24-20 in Columbus) and No. 11 Notre Dame (35-0 in East Lansing). Facing a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit at Ohio State, Dorow threw a 3-yard TD pass to Paul Ekker and scored on a 28-yard reception from Tom Yewcic on a fourth-and-6 play as the Spartans rallied to record their ninth-straight win, 24-20. He earned United Press International’s Midwest Back of the Week honors after completing 11-of-17 passes for 112 yards and two TDs in MSU’s shutout win over Notre Dame. Dorow was selected First-Team All-American by the International News Service (INS).


After graduation, Dorow played football at Bolling Field Air Base in Washington, D.C., where he was voted top player in the Air Force Service in 1954.


A third-round draft pick by the Washington Redskins in 1952, he spent seven years in the National/American Football League (Washington, 1954-56; Philadelphia, 1957; New York Titans, 1960-61; and Buffalo, 1962). As a pro, Dorow completed 572-of-1,207 passes (.474) for 7,708 yards and 64 TDs. He made two Pro Bowl appearances (1956 and 1961) and led the AFL with 26 TD passes in 1960.


Dorow began his coaching career at Hillsdale College in 1963. He returned to his alma mater in 1965 and served as an assistant coach under Duffy Daugherty for six years (1965-70). Dorow became head coach of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1971.


He was preceded in death by his wife of 25 years, Evelyn; parents, Albert and Emma Dorow; brother, Clifford (Jean) Dorow; sister, Vera (Joseph) Maison; and great-nephew, Michael Maison. Surviving are daughters, Bernadine (Ed Brown) Houtz, Debbie (Ken) Latos, Jill (Steve) Walker; grandchildren, Jennifer Houtz, Heather (Justin) Chamberlain, Steven and Nicole Latos, Steven and Stephani Walker; great-grandchildren, Kyla, Alex, and Scarlett; and many special nieces and nephews.


A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. at Peoples Church, 200 W. Grand River Ave. in East Lansing, with the Rev. Dr. Harry H. Johnson officiating. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church. The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes in East Lansing, Mich.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Al Dorow’s memory to the George Webster Scholarship Foundation, Spartan Fund, 200 Spartan Way, East Lansing, MI 48824.


Remembering Al Dorow . . .

Former Michigan State coach George Perles (who served as an assistant with Al Dorow under Duffy Daugherty, 1967-70):

“Al Dorow was one of the pioneers of Michigan State football along with Lynn Chandnois and Sonny Grandelius, who played during the heyday for ‘Biggie’ Munn. Al was involved in one of the most famous plays in Spartan history, catching the transcontinental pass from Tom Yewcic to complete MSU’s fourth-quarter comeback against Ohio State in 1951.


“He was simply a great player and a great coach. Al really helped groom those outstanding quarterbacks who played for Duffy Daugherty in the mid-1960s. He was a true Spartan, who touched many lives.”