Legendary Coach John Pont Passes Away
July 1, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Former Indiana head football coach John Pont passed away Tuesday morning in Oxford, Ohio, at the age of 80. Pont coached the Hoosiers from 1965-72 and led the Hoosiers to their only Rose Bowl appearance.
Indiana reached Pasadena in 1967, when Pont led the team to a 9-2 record, a Big Ten co-championship and an appearance against eventual national champion Southern California. The 1967 team celebrated its 40th anniversary this past season during the Old Oaken Bucket weekend, which Pont attended.
Perhaps more remarkable than the Hoosiers' strong showing against the national champs was the fact that this same team could only muster a 1-8-1 record the previous season, thus making the 1967 Big Ten champions a true "rags to roses" story. Pont earned unanimous national coach of the year honors that season and was selected as head coach of the East team in the 1968 Coaches' All-American game.
Prior to his time in Bloomington, Pont spent seven years as head coach at Miami (Ohio), posting a 43-22-1 record from 1956-62. He won Mid-American Conference titles in 1957 and 1958.
Following his stint in Oxford, Pont moved on to Yale. He went 6-2-1 in 1963 and 6-3 the following season before heading to Indiana. He closed out his coaching career at Northwestern from 1973-77. Pont also served as athletics director at Northwestern from 1975-80.
He returned to coaching in 1984, serving as the head coach at Hamilton High School until 1989. When the College of Mount Saint Joseph went co-ed and started a football program, Pont returned to the college sidelines as the program's first head coach until 1992. In recent years, he volunteered his time with the coaching staff at Oxford's Talawanda High School.
Following an illustrious coaching career in the United States, Pont went international, taking his coaching talents to Japan for 13 seasons until retiring in 2005.
Pont also played at Miami (Ohio) under Woody Hayes and Ara Parseghian. He was an all-conference halfback three years in a row and his No. 42 became the school's first retired jersey. In 1969, he was one of six charter members inducted into the school's Hall of Fame.
He earned a B.A. degree in education at Miami in 1952 and went on to earn a M.A. in 1956.
In addition to the Miami Athletic Hall of Fame, Pont was inducted into the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame and also inducted into Miami's Cradle of Coaches Association. He also was inducted into the Indiana University Hall of Fame.
Pont was born on Nov. 13, 1927. He is survived by his wife, Sandy, and three children, John, Jennifer and Jeff.
Remembering Coach Pont...
"Coach Pont was a great man who left a lasting impression at Indiana University. He will be missed by the entire Indiana football family. Along with Coach Mallory and Coach Hoeppner, Coach Pont came from Miami (Ohio) and brought with him integrity, dignity and class. My thoughts and prayers go to out to John's wife, Sandy, their children, and the rest of the Pont family." -Indiana head football coach Bill Lynch
"I always had the greatest respect for him. I had the opportunity to play for him and be closely associated with him. He was always a mentor to me as a coach and a great friend. He will be terribly missed."-Indiana University Hall of Fame Coach Bill Mallory
"I owe my career, not only as a player but as a professional, to Coach Pont. I love Coach Pont and I miss him already. He had a big impact on my life as well as my entire family's. Indiana University has lost a good man today." -Director of Football Operations Harold Mauro, who played for and coached with Pont
"I was 10 years old watching the Rose Bowl team and they were my heroes then and still are today. Coach Pont was the leader of that group. He was a great, great IU man and did something no one has ever done here before or since. It is a sad day for Indiana University football." -Associate Director of Football Operations Mark Deal, who played and coached at Indiana. Mark's brother, Mike, played on the 1967 Rose Bowl team.
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