HEADLINE

Former Michigan State coach, AD Perles dies at 85

Field Level Media

January 08, 2020 at 5:33 pm.

Former Michigan State football coach and athletic director George Perles died late Tuesday night, the Detroit Free Press reported. He was 85.

Perles announced in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He passed away in East Lansing, Mich., surrounded by his family, the newspaper said.

A Detroit native, Perles was an all-state football player at Detroit Western High School. He attended Tennessee for a short time before enlisting in the U.S. Army, and when his tour was over, he enrolled at Michigan State in the fall of 1956 and played for the Spartans.

After graduation, he coached high school football and was an assistant at Dayton, then joined the Michigan State staff as the defensive line coach from 1967-71.

Perles moved on to the NFL. He joined Chuck Noll’s staff with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1972 and helped to design the famed Steel Curtain defense. He remained with the Steelers, eventually becoming assistant head coac before departing for the head coaching job with the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League. He never coached a game, however. Before league play started, he was hired to coach Michigan State in late 1982.

“That’s the only college job in the country I would be interested in,” Perles said in 1976. “I think anybody is interested in going home if he’s not running away from something. And I’m definitely not running away from anything.”

The Spartans appeared in seven bowl games, winning three, highlighted by a Rose Bowl victory over USC to complete a 9-2-1 season in 1987.

He eventually added athletic director duties to his title, a role he held until 1992 when then-president John DiBiaggio told him to choose one of the two positions. He selected coaching and was fired in 1994.

In 12 seasons, Perles’ teams posted a 73-62-4 overall record. However, five wins in his final season were vacated after the NCAA found violations during his time as coach.

He later served on the Michigan State Board of Trustees from 2007 until November 2018.