George Welsh
Biographical details
Born(1933-08-26)August 26, 1933
Coaldale, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 2, 2019(2019-01-02) (aged 85)
Charlottesville, Virginia
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1963–1972Penn State (assistant)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
2 ACC (1989, 1995)
First-team All-American (1955)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (1991)
4x ACC Coach of the Year (1983, 1984, 1991, 1995)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2004 (profile)

George Welsh (August 26, 1933 – January 2, 2019) was an American college football player and coach. He served as head football coach of the Navy Midshipmen football team of the United States Naval Academy from 1973 to 1981, and the Virginia Cavaliers football team of the University of Virginia from 1982 to 2000.

Welsh retired as the winningest coach in ACC history. Although that record was later surpassed by Bobby Bowden of Florida State, Welsh remains far and away the most successful coach in UVA history (his 134 wins are more than double those of runner-up Al Groh). He was named ACC Coach of the Year four times (1983, 1984, 1991 and 1995) and National Coach of the Year once (1991).

Upon Welsh's retirement after the 2000 season, his 189 career victories ranked him 24th in Division I-A history.

Welsh was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2004.[1]

Early life and career

Welsh was born in Coaldale, Pennsylvania. He played for the Navy Midshipmen from 1952 to 1955, and was a first-team All-American at quarterback in 1955. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1956, he served as an assistant coach under Rip Engle and Joe Paterno at Penn State from 1963 to 1972.

Head coach at Navy

Welsh began his head coaching career at the U.S. Naval Academy in 1973. He inherited a Navy Midshipmen football program that had only had one winning season since the end of the Roger Staubach era. He led the Midshipmen to three bowl game appearances and their first nine-win season in 16 years. In nine seasons, Welsh compiled a record of 55–46–1. He left as Navy's all-time winningest coach, though he has since been passed by Ken Niumatalolo.

Head coach at UVA

In 1982, Welsh left Navy to become the head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers, who had just finished a 1-10 season. He walked into a situation even worse than the one he had inherited at Navy. Prior to his arrival, Virginia had only two winning seasons in the previous 29 years and had never been to a post-season bowl game. The Cavaliers had also only one winning record in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play, had only finished higher than fourth twice, and had only won 33 conference games in 29 years of ACC play.

Welsh turned around the program quickly. In his third season he led the Cavaliers to their first-ever bowl appearance, a victory in the 1984 Peach Bowl. In 1987, Virginia started a streak of 13 straight seasons with seven or more wins. This stretch included shared ACC titles in 1989 and 1995–to date, the only ACC titles in school history–and 11 additional bowl appearances. His teams also compiled four nine-win seasons, including a school-record 10 wins in 1989. His 1990 team was ranked No. 1 in both polls for two weeks in October—to date, the only time a Division I team from the Commonwealth has been ranked No. 1 in a major poll, and the highest that a team from the Commonwealth has ever been ranked at that point in the season. His 1995 team defeated Florida State 33-28 on November 2, the first time the Seminoles had lost a conference game since joining the conference.

Welsh retired after the 2000 season due to health concerns.

In 19 years as the Cavaliers' head coach, he became the most successful coach in school and Atlantic Coast Conference history. Before Welsh arrived at Virginia, the Cavaliers had won just 7 of their last 27 yearly football contests against rival Virginia Tech. During Welsh's head coaching career at UVa, his teams went 9-10 against Virginia Tech, including an 8-6 record against Hokies coach Frank Beamer. At one point during Welsh's coaching career at UVA, Virginia won 5 of 6 games against the Hokies, with 3 of the wins coming on Tech's home field. UVa firsts accomplished under Welsh:

In 2009, Welsh was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.[2]


Welsh died at his home in Virginia on January 2, 2019, at the age of 85.[3][4]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Navy Midshipmen (NCAA Division I / I-A independent) (1973–1981)
1973 Navy 4–7
1974 Navy 4–7
1975 Navy 7–4
1976 Navy 4–7
1977 Navy 5–6
1978 Navy 9–3 W Holiday 17
1979 Navy 7–4
1980 Navy 8–4 L Garden State
1981 Navy 7–4–1 L Liberty
Navy: 55–46–1
Virginia Cavaliers (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1982–2000)
1982 Virginia 2–9 1–5 6th
1983 Virginia 6–5 3–3 T–4th
1984 Virginia 8–2–2 3–1–2 2nd W Peach 17 20
1985 Virginia 6–5 4–3 T–3rd
1986 Virginia 3–8 2–5 T–6th
1987 Virginia 8–4 5–2 2nd W All-American
1988 Virginia 7–4 5–2 2nd
1989 Virginia 10–3 6–1 T–1st L Florida Citrus 15 18
1990 Virginia 8–4 5–2 T–2nd L Sugar 15 23
1991 Virginia 8–3–1 4–2–1 4th L Gator
1992 Virginia 7–4 4–4 T–4th
1993 Virginia 7–5 5–3 T–3rd L Carquest
1994 Virginia 9–3 5–3 T–3rd W Independence 13 15
1995 Virginia 9–4 7–1 T–1st W Peach 17 16
1996 Virginia 7–5 5–3 4th L Carquest
1997 Virginia 7–4 5–3 T–3rd
1998 Virginia 9–3 6–2 3rd L Peach 18 18
1999 Virginia 7–5 5–3 T–2nd L MicronPC
2000 Virginia 6–6 5–3 4th L Oahu
Virginia: 134–86–3 85–51–3
Total: 189–132–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

See also


  1. ^ "George Welsh Selected to College Football Hall of Fame".
  2. ^ Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Inductees, George Welsh Archived 2017-03-14 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  3. ^ Johnson, Taylor (4 January 2019). "Legendary UVA football coach George Welsh passes away at 85". WSET.
  4. ^ Sallee, Barrett (4 January 2019). "Former Virginia coach and College Football Hall of Famer George Welsh dies at 85". CBS Sports.