Former USC Head Coach Jim Carlen Dies

8:08 PM, Jul 22, 2012   |    comments
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Jim Carlen (Image: Univ. of South Carolina)

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Former USC Head Football Coach and Athletics Director Jim Carlen has died.

A source confirmed to News19  that Carlen passed away Sunday at the age of 79.

Carlen coached at USC from 1975 to 1981, and held the title of athletics director at the same time. While at Carolina, he posted a 45-36-1 record, and has the third most victories in program history behind Rex Enright and Steve Spurrier.

Carlen began his career as an assistant at Georgia Tech. He then became a head coach at West Virginia, where his offensive coordinator was Bobby Bowden. After the Mountaineers, he spent five seasons at Texas Tech before coming to Columbia.

In his first season at USC, Carlen led the Gamecocks to an appearance in the Tangerine Bowl (now known as the Capital One Bowl). He also took the Gamecocks to the Hall of Fame Bowl and the Gator Bowl.

For Gamecocks fans, perhaps the biggest moment of the Carlen era was when running back George Rogers won the school's only Heisman Trophy award during the 1980 season. The team won eight games that year, including a memorable 17-14 victory over Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In his final year as head coach, 1981, Carlen's team beat third-ranked North Carolina. Until the team's 2010 victory over Alabama, that was the highest-ranked team the Gamecocks had ever beaten.

A memorial service for Carlen will be held at 4:00 p.m. Friday, July 27, 2012, at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church, with visitation immediately following in the church gymnasium.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 8701 Leeds Road, Kansas City, MO 64129 ( or Trenholm Road United Methodist Church, 3401 Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC 29204.

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