Nov. 5, 2004
Columbia, Mo. -
Tiger Nation has lost one of its greats, as it was learned today that former MU assistant and head football coach Al Onofrio passed away last night at a hospital in Tempe, Ariz. at 83 years of age. Funeral arrangements in Tempe are being finalized by family members.
Onofrio spent 20 years on the Missouri football coaching staff, first as the architect of Dan Devine's rock-solid defenses from 1958-70, a period of time in which MU was one of the nation's most successful programs. He then became the man who succeeded Devine as head coach for a term that ran from 1971-77. His record as a head coach during those seven seasons was 38-41, but he established MU as the upset king of college football, leading the Tigers to dramatic victories over Notre Dame at South Bend, Southern Cal at Los Angeles, Alabama at Birmingham, Ohio State at Columbus, Arizona State at Tempe and Nebraska at both Lincoln and Columbia.
In his time at Mizzou, Onofrio coached four All-Americans, and had more than 30 of his players go on to professional careers in the National Football League. As a head coach, he led MU to two bowl appearances - the 1972 Fiesta Bowl and the 1973 Sun Bowl. His '73 squad was his most successful, as the Tigers went 8-4 that year, and ended the season ranked 17th nationally after a 34-17 triumph over Auburn in the Sun Bowl. Onofrio was a 1993 inductee into the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
Following are comments from Mizzou officials regarding Onofrio's death:
Special Assistant to the Athletic Director John Kadlec - "Al was more than a football coach, he was a gentleman and someone who had immeasurable honesty, trustworthiness and high principles. He followed Missouri all the time and was very loyal to the University - I never heard him utter a negative word about this place. If friends can be brothers, then we were brothers."
Director of Athletics Mike Alden - "This is certainly a sad day for Mizzou. I had the fortune of meeting Al in 1986 when I was at Arizona State, and I knew him to be absolutely a first-class gentleman and professional and a heck of a football coach. Everyone associated with Missouri should be thankful for the time he spent here, and how much he meant to the institution by what he brought not only with his football expertise, but also his character. He will be missed."