Aug. 22, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Miami University has announced plans to honor former football head coach, player and alumnus Randy Walker prior to the kickoff of a nationally televised game versus Northwestern University on Thursday, Aug. 31. The all-time winningest head coach in Miami football history, Walker, who had been the head coach at Northwestern since 1999, passed away suddenly on June 29.
"On Thursday, Aug. 31, we will honor the life and legacy of Randy Walker prior to our football game with Northwestern," Miami Director of Athletics Brad Bates said. "Coach Walker's contributions will forever be felt throughout Oxford, Miami, Northwestern, the NCAA and within the many lives impacted by his magnificent energy, creativity, intelligence, competitiveness and sincerity. We have worked closely with Northwestern A.D. Mark Murphy in planning what we feel is a fitting tribute to the man and the coach."
Prior to the game, which is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU, a ceremony will be hosted at 5 p.m. CT in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza, located beyond the south end zone. Two former Miami head coaches, Bill Mallory and Dick Crum, are scheduled to speak. Mallory, who coached at Miami from 1969-73 and went on to direct the programs at Indiana and Colorado, recruited Walker to Miami and coached him for two seasons. Crum, who served as head coach at Miami from 1974-77 coached Walker at Miami during his junior and senior season and hired him as an assistant coach at both Miami and North Carolina.
Also speaking are Cradle of Coaches author Bob Kurz, the authority on Miami's Cradle of Coaches tradition and a close friend of Walker's, and Murphy. A plaque will be dedicated in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza to commemorate Walker's contributions to both Miami University and the game of
college football. It will be the first plaque to adorn the plaza, which was constructed to honor the many great football coaches who have passed through Miami.
During the game, the players from both teams will wear a sticker on their helmets that denotes Walker's Miami playing number 41 in red and nickname 'Walk,' in purple. A video board presentation at halftime will further commemorate Walker's impressive life.
Walker came to Miami as a standout tailback, where he excelled from 1973-75 in a program that compiled a remarkable three-year record of 32-1-1 while winning three straight Mid-American Conference and Tangerine Bowl titles. A second-team all-MAC pick and team MVP in 1975, Walker once stated that he came to Miami to be a coach, and that path began as a graduate assistant with the Red and White. Walker would go on to serve assistant coaching stints at North Carolina and Northwestern before returning to Miami as head coach in 1990.
In his first season, Walker led a program that had won just two games over the previous two seasons to a 5-5-1 mark, and he only built momentum from there. Behind a crushing ground attack that would create two of the MAC's all-time leading rushers and a stingy defense that traditionally ranked among the best nationally, Walker would compile a record of 59-35-5 over the next nine seasons. In 1998, he led the RedHawks to an upset of No. 12 North Carolina in the season opener, as Miami went on to compile an impressive 10-1 mark.
Walker was hired as Northwestern's head coach in January of 1999 and led the Wildcats to a record of 37-46 over seven years, while becoming the first head coach in program history to lead the program to three bowl games. The Aug. 31 game would have been Walker's first return to Oxford as a head coach since his departure in 1999 and marks only the second time in Miami history that a Big Ten opponent has visited the campus.
Northwestern will honor Walker at its home opener on Sept. 9 vs. New Hampshire. Details will be announced soon. Tickets are still available for both contests through the Miami and Northwestern ticket offices.