Legendary Augustana, Geneseo football coach Bob Reade passes away

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Bob Reade (Augustana College photo)

Legendary local football coach Bob Reade passed away on Sunday in Geneseo, Augustana College announced Monday.

Reade led the Vikings football program to four straight NCAA Division III national championships from 1983 through 1986. Before joining Augie, Reade went 146-21-4 in 17 years at J.D. Darnall High School in Geneseo and was coming off three straight Class 3A state titles in 1976, 1977 and 1978. From 1965-71 his Maple Leafs had an unbeaten streak of 52 straight games.

“People used to say to me that Bob was one-in-a-million,” said Tom Schmulbach, the coach who would eventually succeed Reade as the Augustana head coach. “I would say to that person ‘I think you are underestimating the man’.”

In 16 years at Augustana, the success never stopped as Reade compiled a record of 146-21-1 overall and 112-12-1 in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. His teams were in the NCAA Division III playoffs 11 times, including a then-national record 10 straight appearances from 1981-90. The Vikings won four straight NCAA titles from 1983-86 and his legendary senior class of 1987 went through an entire career without a loss. That group of 13 seniors finished their collective careers with a record of 49-0-1 and had a hand in all four national championships.

“When I heard the news of Coach Reade’s passing all I thought about was his family and all of us that were lucky enough to be part of his life,” said Jay Penney, the quarterback on Augustana’s first national championship team in 1983. “He had a direct impact on me and the entire Penney family and was a mentor to thousands of young men. His greatness will not be the championships and all the wins but the positive effect he had with all of us. He is a great man and will be truly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Reade Family.”

Augustana won 12 CCIW titles during Reade’s time on the sidelines, including eight straight from 1981-88.

He won four straight national “Kodak Coach of the Year” awards as picked by the AFCA and was chosen as CCIW “Coach of the Year” nine times. Starting with the first game of the 1983 season and ending with the second round of the 1987 playoffs, Augustana put together a streak of 60 games in a row without a loss (there was a 0-0 tie with Elmhurst to open the 1986 season. That streak still stands as an NCAA Division III record and is the second longest in NCAA history, regardless of division.

In January of 1998, four years after he coached his last game, he was awarded the prestigious Amos Alonzo Stagg Award by the American Football Coaches Association and in August of that same year, he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana.

A total of 37 players earned NCAA Division III All-America honors while Reade was the head coach and he had 10 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 106 first team all-CCIW performers. In his 16 seasons, a Viking was named the league MVP 13 times.

One of those CCIW Most Valuable Players was offensive center Greg King, who would go on to his own Hall of Fame coaching career at Sterling High School.

“The thing that stands out to me were his rules: obey the law and be a gentleman. That made it pretty simple for all of us and we knew exactly where we stood with him,” said King who was an All-American and team captain of the 1984 national champions. “The other thing that I took with me into coaching that I learned from him was the fact that it is all about fundamentals. Every scouting report said the same three things: ‘Run. Block. Tackle.’ He was actually a fairly quiet man who didn’t raise his voice much. But, he demanded respect and perfection at all times.”

Reade was the first coach in college football history to win 100 games in his first 10 years as head coach. In addition to the College Football Hall of Fame, he was also enshrined in the Quad City Times, Augustana Tribe of Vikings, Geneseo High School, Cornell College (his alma mater) and Illinois Football Coaches Halls of Fame.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Vandemore Funeral Home in Geneseo.

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