Dave Adolph, who served as USD’s Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach from 2004-2007, died this past Sunday. He was 79. He came onboard in Jim Harbaugh’s first season in 2004, and stayed through Ron Caragher’s first campaign in 2007. Each year at the end-of-the-season USD football banquet, a Dave Adolph “Do You Love Football” Award is given to a Torero player from both the offense and the defense. During his four years with USD, the Toreros combined to go 38-8 with three PFL titles.
Former USD Head Coach and current Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh paid tribute via a tweet on social media, “We have lost one of the truly great ones. Coach Dave Adolph who brought joy to all he met and associated. "Do you love football?"
A native of Ohio, Adolph worked in football at various levels for more than 55 years, coaching numerous Hall of Fame players and appearing in a handful of the sport's most memorable games. He began his career at Cleveland's Shaw High School in 1961 and held an analyst position at the University of Michigan upon his death.
He spent nearly a decade with the Cleveland Browns, joining Sam Rutigliano's staff as defensive line coach in 1979 -- his first year in the NFL and a season that ended with a heartbreaking playoff loss to the Oakland Raiders -- and eventually working his way up to defensive coordinator in 1984. He was the defensive line coach from 1979-81 and linebackers coach from 1981-83. After a one-year hiatus, Adolph returned to Marty Schottenheimer's staff in 1986 as the Browns' defensive coordinator during the team's back to back appearances in the AFC Championship in 1986 and 1987. En route to the 1986 AFC Championship, Cleveland held its opponents to 17 points or fewer in eight of its final 11 regular season games. The next year, Cleveland limited its foes to 17 or fewer points in 10 of 15 games. The Browns were the NFL's second-best scoring defense in a 1987 season that ended with a dramatic loss to the Broncos in the AFC title game.
Adolph logged 21 years of coaching at the professional level, including 14 as a defensive coordinator. He appeared in the AFC Championship as a coach on three different teams and made 12 career playoff appearances. After his time in Cleveland, Adolph spent the rest of his NFL years in the AFC West with the Chargers (1985, 95-96), Chiefs (92-94, 99) and Raiders (89-91, 97-98). He coached the likes of Derrick Thomas, Junior Seau and Lyle Alzado.
An all-conference guard at the University of Akron, Adolph was a commissioned officer in the Air Force from 1959-61 before he became a coach. He worked with Woody Hayes at Ohio State (1977-78). He also coached at Akron ('63-64), Connecticut (65-68), Kentucky (69-72), Illinois (73-76) and San Diego (2004-07). He assisted Jim Tressel's and Urban Meyer's staffs at Ohio State and multiple staffs at Michigan from 2005-2016.
A Funeral Mass for David G. Adolph will be held Friday, February 17, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the St. Brigid of Kildare Catholic Church, 7179 Avery Road, Dublin, OH 43017. Interment will be at St. Joseph Cemetery in Mogadore, Ohio.
Friends may contribute to the James Cancer Hospital or firstname.lastname@example.org prostate cancer research fund 315095 in his memory.
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