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UMass football coaches fondly recall Hall of Famer Dick MacPherson

  • Former UMass, Syracuse and New England Patriots football coach Dick MacPherson has died. MacPherson, 86, coached at UMass from 1971-1977. AP

  • Former UMass football coach Dick MacPherson has died. MacPherson, 86, coached at UMass from 1971-1977. COURTESY UMass ATHLETICS

  • Former UMass football coach Dick MacPherson has died. MacPherson, 86, coached at UMass from 1971-1977. COURTESY UMass ATHLETICS

  • Former UMass football coach Dick MacPherson has died. MacPherson, 86, coached at UMass from 1971-1977. COURTESY UMass ATHLETICS

  • Former UMass football coach Dick MacPherson, center, has died. MacPherson, 86, coached at UMass from 1971-1977. COURTESY UMass ATHLETICS



@MattVautourDHG
Tuesday, August 08, 2017

As they came off the field following Tuesday’s practice, the UMass football coaches learned that former coach Dick MacPherson had died.

MacPherson is most known nationally for his tenure at Syracuse and in New England for his brief stint leading the New England Patriots.

But he coached UMass from 1971-77 and went 45-27-1 in those seven seasons. That stint included four Yankee Conference crowns and a trip to the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He’s in the UMass athletic hall of fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame.

Minuteman coach Mark Whipple said many players from that era recounted MacPherson stories at last week’s UMass football golf tournament.

“His name came up a lot two Mondays ago at the golf tournament. He touched a lot of people. Our condolences go out to his family,” Whipple said. “He was a great man. He was enthusiastic and tough. He was really good for this place.”

Detroit Lions scout Dave Uyrus, who coached with MacPherson at UMass, Syracuse and New England, coincidentally was at Tuesday’s Minuteman practice. He broke the news to Whipple.

MacPherson was at Syracuse when current UMass offensive line coach Mike Foley was an assistant coach at Colgate. He said the Red Raiders staff would often visit Syracuse practices to learn from MacPherson and his staff.

“We’d go up and watch them practice. I got to know him a little bit,” Foley said. “He was a great guy, real friendly and helpful. He did a great job a Syracuse. He was always accommodating when we’d go up there to talk football.”

Former UMass head coach Mike Hodges had a similar experience. When he was an assistant coach at Colby, its staff annually visited Amherst to take in a UMass practice and talk football.

“He made us all feel welcome and helped us become better football coaches,” said Hodges, who coached UMass from 1992-1997. “It’s a real loss. He was a good guy and a great coach. He was a real outgoing guy. He loved being around people and he loved football.”

When MacPherson left UMass, his assistant coach Bob Pickett was promoted to head coach and Hodges was hired as an assistant.

UConn coach Randy Edsall, who was an assistant at Syracuse under MacPherson, tweeted:

“So sad to hear of the passing of @CuseFootball Coach Dick MacPherson today. Great coach, person and mentor. Loved Syracuse! RIP”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage