It happened Tuesday night. Eddie was a friend of everyone he met. His old restaurant in Boulder, Eddie's Mexican Cafe, was great watering hole after games for media and families alike. He will be missed greatly.
FORMER CU COACH, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR EDDIE CROWDER PASSES AWAY
BOULDER — Eddie Crowder, long-time University of Colorado football coach and athletic director, passed away shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday evening (Sept. 9) from complications of leukemia. He was 77.
Crowder passed peacefully with his family by his side at Exempla Health Center in nearby Lafayette after checking into the hospital Monday with respiratory problems. Earlier this decade, he had beaten non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma into remission.
“What a blessing he was to all of us,” said Kate, his wife of nearly 20 years. “The pain of my loss is overcome with the joy of having had 20 fabulous years with a man who adored me and whom I adored even more.”
Crowder was hired on Jan. 3, 1963 as the Colorado’s 17th head football coach, signing a four-year contract at $15,000 per year at the time. On July 1, 1965, he also assumed the duties of athletic director, succeeding the retiring Harry Carlson.
CU was 67-49-2 in his 11 seasons as coach, 63-33-2 not including his first two seasons when he was rebuilding the program, with a 13-21 record against ranked teams and 3-2 mark in bowl games. In addition to road wins at No. 9 LSU and No. 6 Ohio State in 1971, his CU teams also ended No. 4 Penn State’s 31-game unbeaten streak in 1970, decimated a No. 10 Air Force team 49-19 in 1970, and toppled No. 2 Oklahoma in 1972 among other great performances.
When he retired following the 1973 season, he exited as the second all-time winningest coach in CU history. Crowder also put together tremendous staffs, several coaches going on to become nationally respected and renowned head coaches themselves. These include Jim Mora, Don James, Jerry Claiborne, Kay Dalton, Rudy Feldman and Les Steckel.
In his 11-year coaching career, he defeated 10 peer coaches who went on to be elected to the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame, posting a 16-16 record in 32 games against college football’s greatest. In his coaching days, Colorado had nine All-Americans, 33 All-Big Eight Conference performers, five Academic All-Americans and 37 National Football League draft choices, with five of his last seven teams earning bowl trips, two more than the school had in its history prior to his taking over as coach. Two of his players went on to be elected to the NFF College Football Hall of Fame, brothers Dick and Bobby Anderson, as they were inducted in 1993 and 2006, respectively.
Five of Crowder’s last seven teams earned bowl trips with two appearances each in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl (1967 and 1971) and the Liberty Bowl (1969 and 1970), as well as a berth in the Gator Bowl (1972).
Crowder served as athletic director at Colorado for 20 years (1965-84), where he directed three major expansions to Folsom Field, improvements to Balch Fieldhouse, the home of the basketball Buffs since 1936 before he coordinated all aspects of development of CU’s Events/Conference Center (opened in1 979), and the integration of women’s athletics into the men’s department in 1978. He hired top people, including legendary CU coaches Bill McCartney (football), Ceal Barry (women’s basketball) and Mark Simpson (golf), along with national respected administrators like Jon Burianek (ticket/business manager) and David Plati (sports information), the latter both “home grown” along with Simpson as all three started as student workers in the athletic department.
Crowder directed three major expansions of Folsom Field to give Colorado one of the most attractive and comfortable football stadiums in the country. His efforts in the area of basketball included the “sprucing up” of Balch Fieldhouse twice, as well as the building of CU’s Coors Events/Conference Center. He also took fundraising to a never before seen level at the university, and when campus often needed dollars for projects, they turned to Crowder for help.
After the department hit hard financial times in 1980, forcing the elimination of seven sports, what Crowder himself termed the toughest time of his career as athletic director, he vowed to stay on the job until the department was financially sound again. That turnaround from a $1 million debt took only three years to complete, and he announced his retirement in the spring of 1984.
He was inducted into the State of Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, the State of Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame.
Born August 26, 1931 in Arkansas City, Kan., Crowder was raised in Muskogee, Okla., where he graduated from Central High School in 1949, where he quarterbacked the school to the state championship his senior year. He enrolled at the University of Oklahoma that fall and was a reserve quarterback on the Sooners’ first national championship team in 1950.
Crowder started for OU the next two seasons as he guided the Sooners to an 8-2-0 mark in 1951 and 8-1-1 in 1952. In his senior year he was named to the All-America and All-Big Seven Conference teams. Often called the “master of deception," he was drafted by the New York Giants in 1953, but declined due to a nerve problem in his throwing arm.
Ironically, one of Crowder’s greatest games came against CU as a junior when he bombed the Buff defense for four touchdown passes, three of them in the first quarter. It was Colorado’s only conference loss that season (1951) as Crowder had scoring strikes of 27,67,38 and 22 yards—completing six of seven passes for 185 yards and adding 54 more rushing yards on six option keepers.
Edwin B. Crowder received his bachelor’s degree in Geology from Oklahoma in 1955 after a two-year interruption following his playing days during which he served in the U.S. Army engineers. He played quarterback on the Fort Hood (Texas) team in 1953 and served as the backfield coach there in 1954.
As an assistant college coach, Crowder served his apprenticeship under two of the game’s masters—one season (1955) at Army under Red Blaik and seven seasons (1956-62) at Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson, his college coach. Colorado looked at him following Dal Ward’s dismissal in 1958, but didn’t pull the trigger on the then 26-year old. Five years later, he was the sole target of then-athletic director Harry Carlson.
He owned Eddie’s Mexican Café in the 1980s, a popular restaurant in Boulder. After leaving CU, he served for a time as the sales and marketing director for The International, Colorado’s first regular stop on the PGA Tour. He then ventured into international marketing with QuixStar/Amway. He also enjoyed traveling with family and did occasional motivational speaking.
He is survived by his wife, the former Kate Alexander, whom he married on Oct. 4, 1989, two children, son Mike and daughter Carol Jean, two stepchildren, David Roman and Rebecca Roman, and three grandchildren, Stephanie D’Angelo, Julia D’Angelo and Trevor James. His parents, two brothers and another son, Robert, preceded him in death.
A memorial service is being planned on the CU campus this weekend, with details pending.
In lieu of flowers, the family has established an Eddie Crowder Football Scholarship Fund. Anyone interested in contributing memorial gifts can make checks payable to the CU Foundation (put Crowder Football Scholarship in the memo field) and mail to The Buff Club, 369 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0369.
Mike Bohn, CU Athletic Director (2005-present)
“We have lost a tremendous leader, coach, mentor and friend. His indelible imprint on CU will always be a cornerstone of the athletic program.”
Bruce Benson, University of Colorado President (2007-present)
“In so many ways, Eddie Crowder exemplified University of Colorado athletics and CU football, and his contributions in those arenas speak volumes. Perhaps his greatest legacy will be the positive, lasting impact he had on the lives of thousands of student-athletes, parents, coaches, colleagues, fans and on the university community.”
Bud Peterson, Kansas State Receiver (1972-74); CU Chancellor (2005-present)
“Eddie Crowder was a legend in the field of intercollegiate athletics nationally and a cherished member of the CU-Boulder community for five decades. I had the privilege of playing on the 1973 Kansas State team that played against CU in Eddie’s last game as head coach of the Buffs. Both prior to and after my arrival as Chancellor, he helped me greatly in understanding the Colorado sports landscape. I will miss his sage advice, his enthusiasm and his love of all things CU, as will our entire community.”
Dan Hawkins,CU Football Coach (2006-present)
"Coach Crowder has been a real blessing in my life. In such a short time he became a great mentor to me. Coach was a giver of his time, his wisdom, insight, and love. He had such a fondness for CU and Colorado Football, particularly all of his former players. I will miss gentle manner and the way he gracefully slid in and out of my daily existence. Eddie Crowder is truly one of the most special people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We will all miss him daily, but he will be there with us each time we run out behind Ralphie onto Folsom Field."
Irv Brown, CU Baseball Coach (1971-78)
“I’m forever grateful that he gave me a chance to coach in college. He was so good for the university. He came at the worst time after the NCAA trouble in the early 1960s and did a marvelous job. One of the best things that ever happened to the school is when he rebuilt the program and they finished third behind Nebraska and Oklahoma (in 1971). At the time it was our highest finish ever and brought a new respect to school that had not been there before.”
Bill McCartney, CU Football Coach (1982-94)
“I was an assistant coach that nobody ever heard of. Eddie Crowder saw something in me and gave me a chance. When things didn’t work out right away, he stuck with me. I’ll always have a debt of gratitude and a special place in my heart for him.”
Rick Neuheisel, CU Football Coach (1994-98)
“I am sorry to hear about Coach Crowder. He was a tremendous influence on me and will always have a special place in my heart. Eddie and I spent a lot of time talking about football, coaching, friendship and life. His wisdom was unmistakable. His zest for life, his love for Kate, and that great smile will always be fond memories. Most important to me, however, was his willingness to remain my friend when it wasn't popular.
“I hope you are comfortable now Coach and I pray you are with loved ones. Be assured I will never forget your kindness and I hope you enjoy roaming the sidelines of heaven. I know from experience you will call one heck of a game!”
Gary Barnett, CU Football Coach (1999-2005)
“All of us in the Colorado football family are saddened by the loss of one of our respected members in Eddie Crowder. Coach Crowder’s love and passion for the game and for the university never ended nor will it now. His effect on the university and many us can only be understood by those he touched. CU will be a different place without him. My family's sympathy and respect to Kate and his loved ones.”
Keith Jackson, ABC Broadcaster (1954-2006)
"College football has lost one of the great ones. I had a lot of fun with Eddie, whether it was talking football or life. And he knew both well.
“Eddie got a lot done with a very even temper. He always gave me the feeling that if you don’t go out and give your best, you’re selling out. If the kids didn’t go out and play their hardest, they would have offended him. That was the way he controlled his team. He wasn’t a shouter, a yeller or a screamer. He simply had those expectations.
“The year Colorado beat Oklahoma when the Sooners were ranked second (1972) is a memorable day to me for several reasons. One, it was a fantastic piece of coaching by the entire Colorado staff. The kids bought into everything and the result was victory over a great team that I believe had a long winning streak. It was also made memorable in my life and my daughter’s life because she was with me that weekend and was considering taking a look at going to CU. On the day before the game, Ralphie came out for her Friday exercise, and I’m down on the field recording some stuff for the next day. I can hear my daughter screaming from somewhere in the stadium, ‘Dad, dad! Look out, look out!’ Ralphie was aimed right at me and I did a vertical jump about five or six feet in the air into the back of some truck and she ran right by me. If I’m not mistaken (he’s not), Eddie allowed the Ralphie program to start up and it’s been a signature event in college football ever since.
“I used to sit there and loved to smell Eddie’s pipe. I gave it (tobacco) up around then, but I used to love to smell it. I’d bring him a special mix from Kansas City. One afternoon, we went to up a mountain golf course, played early and had a very long lunch where we talked philosophy. It was my first chance to really sit down and talk with him, and I came away with a great respect for him not only as a coach, but as a man. From then on out, I always enjoyed watching his teams play.”
Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma Athletic Director (1998-present)
“We have lost a man of great wit and wisdom, but most of all character, in the passing of Eddie Crowder. The loss is felt not only by Eddie’s immediate relatives, but also by Sooners everywhere, the University of Colorado, and so many associated with intercollegiate athletics. The word ‘presence’ comes to mind when you think about Eddie. He changed every room he ever walked into, and he changed it for the better. We grieve with his wife, Kate, and the rest of Eddie’s family and friends, but we also celebrate the blessing and enrichment we received by knowing him.”
Barry Switzer, Oklahoma Football Coach (1973-1988)
“I have heard many of the former Oklahoma players talk about how much Eddie was like his coach here, Bud Wilkinson. His strengths were his intelligence and his personality. And of course he was a man of very strong character. When you spent time with Eddie, regardless of how many times you had been with him, you always left feeling more impressed than you were before. He was just a cut above, a winner. I was a young head coach when we competed and Eddie always had a competitive program. We turned that competitive relationship into a meaningful friendship. I will certainly miss him.”
Claude Arnold, Oklahoma Quarterback & Crowder Teammate (1949-51)
“Everybody liked Eddie. He was a great player and a great leader, and all of the players from that era, Billy Vessels, Buck McPhail and all the rest, thought so much of Eddie. He just had such a dynamic personality and was so much fun to be around. I can’t say enough good things about him. He and his wife, Kate, stayed at our house any time they came back here and we were very close. He was a great player, a great personality, a fine coach and a very good man.” (Arnold was the QB of OU’s 1950 national champion team when Crowder was a sophomore.)
J.D. Roberts, Oklahoma Teammate & 1953 Outland Trophy Winner
“He was one heckuva quarterback and an excellent leader. Eddie was so confident. We knew that when he called a play, it was the only play to run. He had some an excellent grasp of the game.”
Jay O’Neal, Oklahoma Player (1954-56) & Close Friend and Business Associate
“Eddie was four years ahead of me and it was a great thrill to go to Norman in those days and watch the great Sooner teams play. I played quarterback in high school and Eddie was your idol at that time. He was that great faker, the great runner of that offense. I never thought he would come back and coach us, but he did and it was a thrill. I learned so much from him, not just football, but about life and how to treat people. He was the best man in my wedding. We were lifelong friends. He was a great guy and he had such a great view of life.”
Dick Ellis, Oklahoma Teammate
“Eddie was just the nicest guy there ever was. He truly cared about people. He was a wonderful physical talent, a wonderful mental talent and a true leader. You knew Eddie was going to do the right thing. He led through example. He knew how to motivate it and people enjoyed the way he led and appreciated him for it. Eddie wanted to be like Bud (Wilkinson), he adored him, and they were alike but Eddie was still Eddie. He was just a very, very good man.”
Buddy Leake, Oklahoma Teammate & Roommate
“Eddie was running the team when I got here and he was such a great leader and a very well-liked guy. He then went on to be a very good coach. Eddie had all of that personality and you always felt like he was really pulling for you and everyone else on the team. He was really a special guy.”
Merrill Green, Oklahoma Teammate & Roommate
“We had lost to Eddie’s team in the state finals so I had worked up a pretty good dislike for that smart aleck from Muskogee by the time I got to OU. It tells you a lot that we then became close friends. I really feel like I have lost a brother. He was so special. He was the best man in my wedding and I sang in his wedding. I really liked me when I was around Ed. He brought out the best in everyone and made you feel good about yourself. He knew all about us. I would venture to say that most of the people you talk to about Ed today considered him their best friend. He made you feel special. This is a real sad moment.”
David L. Boren, University of Oklahoma President
“Sooners everywhere are deeply saddened by the death of Eddie Crowder. He was one of my personal heroes dating back to my childhood days and became a good friend and adviser after I returned to the university as president. He was a true gentleman and worthy role model for all Sooner athletes. He was especially helpful in providing me with personal advice in the selection of Joe Castiglione as athletic director and Bob Stoops as head football coach. He will be greatly missed by the OU family. We extend our condolences and love to his family and friends.”
Ron Scott, Nose Tackle (1965-68)
“Eddie had very strong connections with many, many individuals. Well before development offices had large staffs, Eddie realized the importance of engaging key community leaders in the program. He was a fundraiser extraordinaire and single handedly created the foundation for fundraising today. As a matter of fact he was the first to develop the Buff Club office. Eddie sought the counsel of two key individuals from the very beginning, Jack Vickers and Bob Six, and with their help they engaged a strong nucleus of both alums and friends to help build CU Athletics. The Coach tried as best he could engage them during and after games, often hosting a postgame party. These relationships continue today for CU with many of the same individuals and/or family members of these individuals.
“As a member of the first recruiting class for Eddie, a player for three seasons and played in his first bowl game (‘67 Bluebonnet) and then as his fundraiser from 1982 until his retirement, and most of all continued friend, I speak for many as we will miss the ‘Ol’ coach.’ We all respected his love for his alma mater, OU, but he truly became a Buff! God bless his soul.”
Bobby Anderson, Quarterback/Tailback (1966-69)
“I first became aware of the name Eddie Crowder in 1963 from my parents when they informed me that he was named the new head football coach of the Colorado Buffaloes. I was a 15-year old ninth grader and brother Dick was a junior at Boulder High School. Dad informed me that Eddie had been a great quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, had played against Colorado's Tom Brookshier, Don Branby and Zack Jordan, was a teammate of Heisman Trophy winner Billy Vessels and seemed to be cut out of the same mold as Eddie's Hall of Fame coach Bud Wilkinson. When Eddie spoke he was precise in his choice of words and very thoughtful and intelligent with his comments just like the Bud Wilkinson we had seen on TV.
“I wanted this man to be special, to be a great coach, because since the age of 5, I was going to be a Colorado Buffalo. I wore Frank Bernardi's number 18 on my grade school jersey, Dick wore 27, for Carroll Hardy. My image of a football coach was Dallas Ward with my heroes John Wooten, Frank Clarke, Boyd Dowler, Bob Stransky, Eddie Dove and John Bayuk. Then came coach Sonny Grandelius with a new group of great Buffs, Joe Romig, Gale Weidner, Teddy Woods, Chuck McBride, Ken Blair and Jerry Hillebrand. The '61 team won the Big Eight championship and earned an Orange Bowl invitation but was followed by NCAA violations. Too many scholarship players were declared ineligible for Colorado Football to have any respectability for the next three years. The football program was decimated as if hit by a ‘Pallavicini’ avalanche at Arapahoe Ski Basin.
“This young new coach had to embark on a reconstruction job to restore trust in Colorado football. He needed to develop a network of financial support from Colorado's business elite. Eddie did that. He brought with him dedicated coaches who recruited relentlessly. Mentored by Earl "Red" Blaik at Army and Bud Wilkinson, Eddie was a supreme strategist. He became everything and more that I wanted that new Colorado coach to be.
“I first met Coach Crowder in person when he visited our living room to recruit my brother Dick. I hung on every word. He was complimentary, kind, thoughtful, persuasive and intelligent. I was silently hoping that in two years he would be back to visit me. As he left that evening he said he would be doing that. I add to those honorable traits of his, sincerity and honesty. I was lucky. He came back, and more importantly for me, he stayed loyal to his commitment when I got a little confused in the whole recruiting process.
“It was the third of Coach Crowder's seasons that he had the Buffs back on a winning track with a 6-2-2 record in '65 and 7-3 in '66, two teams that each beat Oklahoma. A bowl bid was offered in '66 but was turned down.
“In the 60's freshman weren't eligible to play. We had four years to play three and our first year of eligibility was as sophomores. I really got to know Eddie Crowder in the fall of '67. His instruction on the field enhanced my abilities and rapidly built confidence. I had great respect for his football knowledge as he taught us the strategies of play calling, reading defenses, and anticipating what would take place before the ball was snapped. These were special meetings in Eddie's office with coach and quarterbacks. With about 13 possessions in a game Coach would have us complete 13 successful touchdown drives on a card marked as a football field. Coach would give us down and yardage situations, present opponents defenses, and develop our confidence in mentally responding to each possible situation. Bernie McCall, the Buffs QB in 1966, told me that Eddie would inform you in the meetings what an opposing defense would do on Saturday and that's exactly what would happen. Bernie was right. From the end of '66 into '67 the Buffs had a nine-game winning streak with wins over Oklahoma, Missouri twice, Kansas, Oregon, and Nebraska. After the win over Nebraska in Lincoln we were third in the nation, finished the season 9-2 and beat Miami in our bowl game.
“Eddie's statements and philosophies became characteristic of the way the Buffs played. Meaningful to me was that they were so very applicable to life after football: ‘poise is the product of preparation,’ ‘pay attention to detail,’ ‘take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.’ Positive mental preparation and mental toughness were attributes instilled in us and Eddie's intensity, intelligence and competitiveness were our example.
“Eddie's teams enjoyed more excellent seasons. An 8-3 record in '69 with a win over Bear Bryant and Alabama in the Liberty Bowl. A 10-2 season in '71, ranked third in the country. With his last win over Oklahoma in '72 the Buffs were 8-4. Eddie Crowder's teams beat a lot of Hall of Fame coaches and mentored Don James and Jerry Clairborne before they went on to their own Hall of Fame careers. Eddie's teams beat Bob Devaney, Barry Switzer, Dan Devine, Joe Paterno, Charlie McClendon, Woody Hayes and Grant Teaff among others.
Bobby Anderson, continued
“Eddie Crowder stepped down as head football coach after 11 seasons and followed with more service to the University of Colorado as athletic director. His great hire was that of Bill McCartney who led the Buffs to a national championship in 1990.
“Eddie Crowder is a loving Christian man. He prayed for his football teams before and after their games. He held his family, players, and close relationships in his heart. His kindness and friendship will be missed. I love Eddie Crowder like a father and a brother. Eddie will have a relationship with God for eternity ... many of the blessings, and victories I have enjoyed in life are because of Eddie Crowder. There is a part of the foundation of my belief system, self esteem, confidence and faith that come from the example and mentorship of Eddie Crowder. I will always cherish our relationship.”
Cliff Branch, Wide Receiver/Track Sprinter (1969-72)
“Eddie was a very good friend of mine. He was the reason that I came to the University of Colorado. When I came on my recruiting trip, he was up front and honest about everything the school had to offer. Not only with football but academically and socially; he was straight with me. He was a tremendous leader and he made me into an excellent football player. He gave me a chance to succeed and was instrumental in me being selected by the Oakland Raiders in the NFL Draft. He was a tremendous athlete himself and played for the great Bud Wilkinson, and he modeled himself after Bud and what he had done for him. You could see that he had a lot of Bud Wilkinson in him in his approach and philosophy. He was a true friend to me, and when I came back to CU every year for a game, the first person I always wanted to see was Eddie Crowder. This is a sad day for me and a sad day for the entire University of Colorado.”
John Stearns, Football Safety/Baseball Catcher (1969-73)
"Eddie Crowder changed the face of Colorado football. He was a great leader, motivator of men and had an extremely intelligent offensive football mind. He led CU football through the 60s and 70s and was the primary reason I attended the University of Colorado. It was an honor and a privilege to play for and to know him.”
Dave Logan, Wide Receiver (1972-75)
"Outside of my household, Eddie was the single biggest reason I went to the University of Colorado. He was an outstanding coach and brought the best out of me as a football player. I played my best football for him. He was always genuine, a good man.”
Steve Hatchell, Equipment Manager/Sports Information (1967-1976)
“It’s a particularly sad time me with the passing of Eddie Crowder. I had the good fortune to be with him for 10 years while I was a student and then as an employee. And then when I worked at the Big 8 Conference he was a boss because he was one of the eight athletic directors I responded to. But to me he was my mentor, my coach, my friend, my example and forever a sounding board and wonderful thinker. I was with Eddie for every football game during that 10 year period.
“He gave me so much responsibility as head manager on the football team that I have used those skills forever. He never looked at an issue as whether something could be done or not, but would always begin by saying ‘Hatch, here’s how we’ll do this.’ Having been in college athletics for over 30 years I know Eddie’s value on so many platforms that each needs to be reviewed and admired.
“People to this day know of my closeness to Eddie and ask me about him. Because of Eddie I got to know Bud Wilkinson who came to spring practices to be with his protégée. I was taught the value and heart and thinking of recruiting Prentice Gautt to be the first black player in Oklahoma history. And then brought Prentice on our staff when we started the Big 12 Conference. Billy Vessels was on my Board of Directors when I was Executive Director of the Orange Bowl and to hear his stories of Oklahoma football through his eyes and that of the entire Oklahoma football team under Wilkinson is to truly understand what is the concept of Oklahoma, state-wise, football-wise and how they interlink. Eddie was a leader of that ‘concept’ and an architect for its future successes.
“Eddie was admired nationally as player, coach, confidant, and most importantly as a leader. Colorado football became COLORADO FOOTBALL because of him. He was an All-American football player, and as a coach had national rankings, All-American football players, and beat Bob Devaney, Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant, Chuck Fairbanks, Bill Yeoman, and many other coaches who are Hall of Fame coaches. His class and standing allowed Colorado to get into bowl games in the l960s when there were only seven available bowl games. Eddie’s legacy spans decades and the National Football Foundation was created by powerful men not the least of whom was Red Blaik, legendary coach at Army. On the statue to his memory is the list of assistant coaches who contributed to that legacy, and it’s a who’s who of great coaches, Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, Eddie Crowder.
Because he was so admired by people of real intellect and those who had accomplished things in life it was always special to be considered one of “Eddie’s guys.” Charlie Brannon, former Secretary of Agriculture under President Harry Truman told me after meeting Eddie for lunch that “he is one of the best thinkers, most interesting people” he had ever met and talked about Eddie until he passed away. Brannon thought I was most fortunate to have such a great friend as Eddie Crowder.
So many people, the University of Colorado, State of Colorado, and the game of football are better off because of Eddie Crowder. I’m so delighted, and fortunate, that I had the strength to tell him I loved him when he attended our dinner in New York two years ago. For a lifetime of influence that spans over 40 years it was the best I could do. But I have always been and will always be proud to call him my friend, and one of “Eddie’s guys.”
Ceal Barry, Women’s Basketball Coach (1983-2005)
“Eddie Crowder always had a smile on his face and an encouraging word. As the athletic director, he understood the challenges of coaching having been one himself. He took a chance on hiring me, a relative unknown, and supported me through a very rough first year of coaching the women’s basketball team in 1983.”
Candy (Casotti) Nesheim, Daughter of Fred “Count” Casotti
“Eddie Crowder was my father’s most dear, loyal and trusted friend. Dad’s nickname for Eddie was ‘Chief’ out of respect for his ability to manage people and football players. Dad once told me Eddie was the most intelligent person he had ever been around and he truly loved him like a brother. As for me, Eddie was like a second father while he was coach and AD, and dad was his “right hand man.” I and my family have wonderful memories of Eddie and I know that he and dad are reliving old times and will be cheering on the Buffs forever. Together!!”
Jack Mills, Sports Attorney/Player Agent & Friend
“I have known Eddie for about 50 years, since he came to the University of Oklahoma to join Bud Wilkinson's coaching staff. I assisted him in recruiting football players for OU, until my graduation from law school in 1963. He then gave me my first job after spending two years in the U.S. Army, in August 1965, as assistant athletic director at CU. I only stayed at that job for one year, but Eddie remained a good friend and mentor for the rest of his life. I often think that taking that job and moving to Boulder actually determined what I have done for all of my working life, so it is hard to overestimate the impact and influence that Eddie had on my life and the lives of my family members. Many of my friends who played football at OU say that Eddie is the coach that cared the most about them and did the most for them. I will truly miss Eddie's friendship.”
Jon Burianek, Ticket Manager/Associate Athletic Director (1968-2006)
“It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to the man fondly known as Coach. He was the one who took a chance on me 40 years ago as I began my 38 years as a Colorado Buffalo. Not only was Coach a role model, encourager, and the Chief, but he was also one who I have had the privilege to call my friend and mentor. Coach had a profound impact on my life both professionally as well as personally guiding me through tough times, celebrating during the special times and always challenging me to be better. Nancy and I as well as our children, Jason and Elsa, have been blessed to have both Kate and Eddie in our lives. Our hearts go out to Kate and the rest of the Crowder family. We are saddened by the death of a beloved man and a true Buffalo. We will forever cherish the impact he has had on our lives.”
Kevin Fenton, Assistant Ticket Manager & Ticket Manager (1975-1990)
“As I have been reflecting since last evening about Coach Ed, a lot of thoughts come to mind, but probably the most important is how many people like myself there are. Eddie had a hand in starting my career, but also giving opportunities to many others, providing the framework for lifelong success and allowing his people to see the challenges and take them on. There are many others who worked closer to Coach Ed, worked with him longer, but the impact was the same. He had one of the brightest minds I’ve known and I don’t think any of us will ever know how many people he touched. I think about all of the young men that played for him and what a profound influence he must have had on them. I think about the coaches he had under him and the ultimate success many of them had. I think about The Count (Fred Casotti) and JB (Jon Burianek) and what our department was like in those days—small, simple, direct, efficient … and a family.
In the years I worked under Eddie at CU, times were tough, but as a department we hung together. I remember with a smile, the game day breakfasts (6:30 a.m. at the Aristocrat or the Golden Buff) when Coach would meet the ticket and business staff to start the day. He took the time to spend with us, quite often giving us insight on what to watch for that day on the field. It was not an easy time, after all, we were all wearing blue!
Recently, Caroline and I would run into Eddie at the Y working out. He would greet us with his smile and the inquisitive twinkle in his eye that I will always remember.
Coach Ed was a proven leader, one mentor that I will never forget and will never forget the contribution he made to our lives.”
Caroline Fenton, Ticket Office Staff &Manager (1975-1999)
“What comes to my mind first is what a gentleman Coach Ed was. With his Southern manner, he would greet you ‘Why hello, Miss Caroline.’ A true gentleman he was who cared about his staff. Just the example Kevin used that he would get up early on game days to meet the ticket office staff for breakfast. This was a special time for all of us to have our special informal time with a boss that made us feel like family. He frequently stopped by the ticket and would make sure he said his hello to each and everyone one of us ... Miss Phyllis, Miss Penny, Miss Ferne, Miss Meg, Miss Debbie. There were definitely some rough times during the years under Coach Ed, but those were the years that I think that taught us the most and the ones I value the memories the best. Through example, he taught us to be strong, have perseverance, and believe that things would get better. As The Count would say, "Well they can't get any worse!" But that was not the focus, the focus was if we worked hard together we would turn things around. And turn around it did!”
Jo Jo Christensen, Crowder Administrative Assistant (1980-84)
"Eddie was easily one of the nicest bosses I ever had. He was always grateful for any work I did for him, and he would say ‘thank you’ every day.”
Larry Zimmer, KOA-Radio: The Voice of the Buffaloes (1971-present)
"I am saddened by the passing of Eddie Crowder. When I came to Colorado to be the play by play announcer of the Buffaloes 37 years ago, from my first meeting with Eddie, we became friends. He embraced me and took me into his confidence. I was immediately impressed by his innovative approach to football. Based on the wishbone, his triple-option offense was brilliant. He made football fun. Eddie loved his ‘gadget’ plays and burned opponents with the ‘swinging gate.’ But Eddie was more than a football coach. He could have been a professor in the English department or the History department. I enjoyed our long conversations about history and life. I enjoyed his keen sense of humor and was inspired by his commitment to God. Even after his days of a coach and administrator were over, he was active in business—owning a restaurant and being a distributor of cleaning products. He never lost his love and loyalty to the university. Eddie and I worked together often in more recent years in his role with Jack Vickers in staging the International Golf Tournament. Over the years we remained great friends and on many occasions I sought his counsel.
I am so happy that Eddie and Kate found each other. The love for they had for each other was quite evident. Kate helped him in dealing with the untimely death of his son and with the health problems he had experienced over the past few months. I'll miss him."
Jerry Rutledge, Former University of Colorado Regent
“It is impossible to know how many people Coach Crowder touched. Certainly the Coach was a mentor, motivator, encourager, giver to everyone fortunate enough to know him. When one combines those attributes with Eddie's wisdom and keen intuition and being a Godly man the result is very special. I will always be grateful for Eddie and our relationship.”
Mike Moran, Sports Information Director (1968-79)
"Eddie opened up my life to things I never would have thought possible when he hired me with Fred Casotti in 1968. They told me it was a sort of trial basis deal, and they'd see how I did after a few months. I paid my own way from Omaha for my interview, had fifteen minutes with Eddie, and thought I had bombed out. As I was leaving to drive back home, they called me and said they would try me out. I think he and Fred had a big laugh over that whole thing, but it changed my life.
"Eddie was an amazing combination of intellect and coaching skill, and he cobbled together some of the best staffs in college football with young guys and veterans who established their own great careers, like Jim Mora, Chet Franklin, Jerry Claiborne, Steve Ortmayer and a lot of others. He liked coaches who could think, and who would, on occasion, challenge him. He could recruit, and he built a sound program at the same time that Oklahoma and Nebraska were as good as they would ever be."
"I went to his home one night in 1978 after I had an offer from the United States Olympic Committee to join them. I had been at CU for a decade, and Eddie had hired Chuck Fairbanks. I told Eddie that I would probably stay, because Fairbanks was going to be great, and I wanted to be part of all that. Eddie poured me a stiff drink, and we sat down to chat. He told me he thought it was a good time to move on and that change was good. I took the USOC offer, and later realized Eddie had helped me miss the Titanic at the dock. I owe him big-time for that one."
Tim Simmons, Sports Information Director (1979-81)
“My most vivid thought about Eddie is that he was always on the move. Eddie was a doer and was always thinking about trying to make things better.”
David Plati, Sports Information Director (1984-present)
"I was the last hire Eddie approved of in the summer of 1984 before he stepped down as athletic director. He could have easily delayed the appointment until a new AD took over, but worked with Fred Casotti to name me as SID when I was a wide-eyed 24-year old who, in retrospect, didn’t really know all what he was getting into. There is no doubt I owe my long career at CU due to the chance that Eddie and Fred took on me. Growing up a CU fan in the late 1960s and 1970s, I was often in awe of Eddie; it’s a privilege to meet your sports heroes much less work with them. We eventually became good friends and there was nothing better than sitting down and talking about the stories of CU football in the 1960s and 1970s. To call Eddie a CU “icon” would be most accurate in my estimation and everyone in the CU athletic community will miss him.”