The family of College Football Hall of Fame coach George Welsh announced today that he died Wednesday, Jan. 2, in Charlottesville. He passed peacefully in the presence of his family. He was 85-years old.
Welsh served as the head football coach at Virginia from 1982 to 2000. During that 19-year period, he compiled a record of 134-86-3 and retired as the winningest coach in ACC history.
In just his third season in Charlottesville, Welsh led Virginia to an 8-2-2 record that culminated with the team’s first bowl appearance. UVA defeated Purdue 27-24 in the 1984 Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
Starting in 1987, Welsh’s teams began a streak of 13 straight seasons with seven or more wins. That stretch included shared ACC titles in 1989 and 1995 and 11 additional bowl appearances. His teams also compiled four nine-win seasons, including a school-record 10 wins in 1989. His 1990 team was ranked No. 1 in both college football ranking polls for two weeks in October. His 1995 team defeated Florida State 33-28 on Nov. 2, the first time the Seminoles had lost a conference game since beginning ACC play in 1992.
In 1991, he was awarded the Bobby Dodd Award as the national coach of the year. Welsh was named the ACC Coach of the Year four times – 1983, 1984, 1991 and 1995.
When Welsh took over the UVA program, the Cavaliers had experienced only two winning campaigns in their previous 29 seasons.
Prior to his stint at UVA, Welsh was the head coach at Navy from 1973 to 1981. He led the Midshipmen to a 55-46-1 record and left the Academy as the winningest coach in school history.
Welsh’s 28-year record as a head coach was 189-132-4 and included 15 bowl appearances. His career win total of 189 was the 24th most in Division I history at the time of his retirement.
During the 2017 Military Bowl between Virginia and Navy, the Cavaliers wore a helmet decal honoring his tenure at both schools.
Welsh was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004. He was named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
In the spring of 2013, Virginia dedicated its new indoor practice facility in Welsh’s name.
A native of Coaldale, Pa., Welsh attended the United States Naval Academy and played for the Midshipmen from 1952 to 1955. He was a first-team All-America quarterback in 1955. He finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy that season. After graduating from the Academy in 1956 and fulfilling his military obligation, he served as an assistant coach under Rip Engle and Joe Paterno at Penn State from 1963 to 1972.
For 52 years Welsh was married to his wife, Alexandra, before she passed away in 2015. They have four children. Kate, Duffy, Matt and Adam.