"He had the biggest heart of any man I knew and loved his children unconditionally and had a lot of people that cared for him," the younger Widenhofer told the paper. "He would have done anything for us — he stretched and stretched to do everything he could for us. Obviously, his career was very nomadic moving everywhere; the life of a football coach takes a lot of your time. But he was there for us as much as he could be."
Widenhofer had been hospitalized earlier in the month after suffering a minor stroke but passed away Sunday evening from another stroke suffered on Saturday while hospitalized.
With a resume that spanned college and pro football, Widenhofer was the coach at Vanderbilt from 1997-2001 and Missouri from 1985 to 1988, though he compiled just a 27-71-1 record as a head coach at those programs. However, Widenhofer's 5-6 record at Missouri in 1987 matched the program's highest single-season win total between 1984 and 1996. Additionally, his defenses at Vanderbilt were consistently some of the best in the SEC.
In 1997, Vanderbilt held Peyton Manning to 17 points, Tim Couch to 21 prime Steve Spurrier to 20 and Kevin Faulk LSU to 7. Went 0-8 in the SEC anyway.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 23, 2020
In addition to his time in college, Widenhofer was a linebackers coach and later defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1973-83. He was a part of four Super Bowl-winning teams and one of the leaders behind the famous Steel Curtain defense. He also served as the linebackers coach of the Cleveland Browns under then-coach Bill Belichick.