Former Ole Miss, Texas Coach Dies
June 17, 1998
AUSTIN, TX -- Former Ole Miss football player Mike Campbell, 76, who spent half his life as an employee of The University of Texas Athletics Department, died early Tuesday morning from complications of lymphoma.
Born in Knox County, Tenn., on May 9, 1922, Campbell was a coach, teacher, father, patriot and friend.
As an assistant coach to Darrell Royal at Texas, Campbell served 20 years as the chief architect of one of the hallmark defenses in the history of college football. As a teacher, he built his program on solid individual fundamentals and a sound plan of attack.
Campbell, who grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and was Captain of the Central High football team, enrolled at The University of Mississippi in 1942 as a freshman member of Harry Mehre's football squad.
Following his freshman year at Ole Miss, he became a B-24 pilot during World War II, flying 50 bombing missions, including attacks over the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, which supplied one third of Nazi Germany's oil. He was awarded the Air Medal and three clusters.
Following his time in the service, he returned to Ole Miss and was on the Rebel football squad for the 1945 and 1946 seasons. He finished his college degree at The University of Mississippi in 1947. During his senior year, he married an Ole Miss sophomore named Mary Hearn, a partnership that would last for over 50 years.
Campbell started his life in coaching soon after college, becoming highly successful in the Mississippi High School ranks at Gulf Coast Military Academy, Canton, and Vicksburg. His success and his popularity with other high school coaches caught the eye of Royal, who was a young college assistant coach and then head coach at Mississippi State in 1955.
When Royal moved to Washington for the 1956 season, Campbell joined his staff. It was a union that would bring unparalleled success in college football.
In 1957, Royal took the head coaching job at Texas, and Campbell was part of the package. The Longhorns over the next 20 years would win three national championships, 11 league titles and establish a 30-game winning streak -- the longest mark in recent NCAA history.
Campbell was Royal's chief scout and end coach in the days of single platoon football, and he took over the linebackers as two-platoon football became popular during the early 1960s.
In 1967, he was placed in charge of the Longhorn defense, and in 1974 was named assistant head coach.
When Fred Akers was named Texas' head coach after Royal retired following the 1976 season, Campbell chose to leave the coaching profession -- and UT -- but that didn't last long.
He worked four years for the Texas Teacher Retirement System, but in 1980 became head of The Texas Longhorn Education Foundation, a non-profit group that raised money to supplement athletic scholarships for the UT Men's Athletics Department. It was a role he would fill until his death.
Not only did he run the "200 'Horns" Centennial Room at Texas home games, he remained an active supporter of all Longhorn sports.
As a Texas coach, Campbell tutored seven all-Americans and 43 all-Southwest Conference performers.
Campbell's three sons--twins Mike and Tom and younger brother Rusty--all played at Texas. Tom and Mike were members of the 1969 National Champion team, and Rusty was on the team in 1970 and 1971.
As a friend and a teacher, Campbell used a dry wit and a twinkle in his eye to make a point. He continued to fly, taking Royal and staff members on recruiting trips, and he enjoyed golf. In 1984, he was named to the Longhorn Hall of Honor.
He was honored this spring by new head football coach Mack Brown with the First annual Mike Campbell Letterman's Golf Tournament. The Trophy Room in the remodeled Moncrief-Neuhaus football support facility at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium will be named for Campbell and one of his former players, Bob Moses.
Survivors include his wife, Mary, and sons and daughters-in-laws Mike and Becky of The Woodlands, and Tom and Kim and Rusty and Betsy, all of Austin; a sister, Pat Rowan of Memphis, Tenn., seven grandchildren (Kate, Beth, Erin, Amy, Courtney, Michael and Collin) and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held Thursday at 2:00 p.m. at the Frank C. Erwin Center on The UT campus. Burial will be at Austin Memorial Park immediately following the service. The family will receive visitors at the Weed Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 North Lamar in Austin from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
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