Jim Wacker
Jim Wacker.png
Biographical details
Born(1937-04-29)April 29, 1937
Detroit, Michigan
DiedAugust 26, 2003(2003-08-26) (aged 66)
San Marcos, Texas
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1960–1963Concordia HS (OR) (assistant)
1964–1969Concordia (NE) (assistant)
1970Augustana (SD) (assistant)
1971–1975Texas Lutheran
1976–1978North Dakota State
1979–1982Southwest Texas State
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1998–2001Southwest Texas State
Head coaching record
Tournaments4–0 (NAIA D-II playoffs)
8–2 (NCAA D-II playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
2 NAIA Division II (1974–1975)
2 NCAA Division II (1981–1982)
2 NCC (1976–1977)
3 LSC (1980–1982)
AFCA College Division Coach of the Year (1982)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (1984)
Sporting News College Football COY (1984)
LSC Coach of the Year (1980, 1982)

James Herbert Wacker (April 28, 1937 – August 26, 2003) was an American football coach and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at Texas Lutheran University (1971–1975), North Dakota State University (1976–1978), Southwest Texas State University—now Texas State University (1979–1982), Texas Christian University (1983–1991), and the University of Minnesota (1992–1996), compiling a career college football record of 159–131–3. Wacker won two NAIA Division II National Championships with Texas Lutheran in 1974 and 1975, and two NCAA Division II Football Championships with Southwest Texas State, in 1981 and 1982.

Early life and education

The son of a Lutheran minister, Wacker was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Lutheran-affiliated Valparaiso University in 1960 and went on to further studies at Wayne State University.

Coaching career

In the early phase of his coaching career, Wacker coached at Texas Lutheran University (1971–1975), North Dakota State University (1976–1978), and Southwest Texas State University (1979–1982). He won four national championships, two at Texas Lutheran and two at Southwest Texas State.


Wacker became head football coach of Texas Christian University after the 1982 season. He had early success at TCU. In 1984, his team was ranked as high as #12, the TCU Frogs' highest ranking since 1960, and was invited to the Bluebonnet Bowl after an 8–3 record in the regular season. The #12-ranked Frogs lost a showdown for the Southwest Conference title with the #10-ranked Texas Longhorns on November 10 in what remains the third best-attended game in the history of Amon G. Carter Stadium. After the season, Wacker was named as National Coach of the Year by ESPN, the UPI, and The Sporting News. He was awarded the 1984 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award.

There was much hype surrounding the Frogs going into the 1985 season, and Wacker appeared on the cover of Dave Campbell's Texas Football alongside his All-American running back, Kenneth Davis, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 1984 and a leading candidate for the award in 1985. After the first game of the season, Wacker discovered that several players, including Davis, had been benefiting from a payment plan in violation of NCAA rules. Wacker promptly kicked the players off the team and self-reported the infractions to the NCAA, cementing his reputation as a man of integrity. In 1986, the NCAA slapped TCU with three years' probation and a ban on postseason play in the 1986 season. The most severe penalty in the long run, however, was a reduction to only 25 scholarships in 1987 and 1988. To this day, Horned Frog fans remain bitter that the NCAA imposed such a severe penalty given that the violations were voluntarily reported.[1] As heavy-handed as this penalty was, the NCAA seriously considered banning the Horned Frogs from bowl games and live television for three years and no new scholarships in 1987 or 1988. However, it praised Wacker for taking swift corrective action once the violations came to light, including kicking the players off the team when he was well aware that it would cripple the team for the upcoming season.[2]

Wacker brought the team back to success in 1990, when the 5–1 Frogs returned to the top 25 for the first time since 1984, before slumping after a season-ending injury to their starting quarterback. In 1991, TCU finished 7–4 for their first winning season since 1984. However, blowout losses to Texas and Texas A&M kept the Horned Frogs out of a bowl. This was one of only three winning seasons TCU had from 1985 to 1997.


Wacker served as head coach at the University of Minnesota from 1992 to 1996. Although he had a disappointing won-lost record (16–39) at Minnesota, for three years his teams led the conference with academic all-conference honors.

Later life, death, and honors

Wacker was an announcer on CBS Radio for two years and then returned to Southwest Texas State University in 1998 to serve as athletic director until 2001. He died after a long battle with cancer in San Marcos, Texas on August 26, 2003. In November 2003, Southwest Texas State named its football field at Bobcat Stadium "Jim Wacker Field" in his honor.[3]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs NCAA#
Texas Lutheran Bulldogs (NAIA Division II independent) (1971–1975)
1971 Texas Lutheran 5–6
1972 Texas Lutheran 3–7
1973 Texas Lutheran 7–3
1974 Texas Lutheran 11–0 W NAIA Division II Championship
1975 Texas Lutheran 11–1 W NAIA Division II Championship
Texas Lutheran: 37–17
North Dakota State Bison (North Central Conference) (1976–1978)
1976 North Dakota State 9–3 6–0 1st L NCAA Division II Semifinal (Grantland Rice) T–8
1977 North Dakota State 9–2–1 6–0–1 1st L NCAA Division II Semifinal (Grantland Rice) 1
1978 North Dakota State 6–4 3–3 T–3rd
North Dakota State: 24–9–1 15–3–1
Southwest Texas State Bobcats (Lone Star Conference) (1979–1982)
1979 Southwest Texas State 7–4 3–4 T–5th
1980 Southwest Texas State 8–3 6–1 1st 8
1981 Southwest Texas State 13–1 6–1 1st W NCAA Division II Championship 4
1982 Southwest Texas State 14–0 7–0 1st W NCAA Division II Championship 1
Southwest Texas State: 42–8 22–6
TCU Horned Frogs (Southwest Conference) (1983–1991)
1983 TCU 1–8–2 1–6–1 8th
1984 TCU 8–4 5–3 T–3rd L Bluebonnet
1985 TCU 3–8 0–8 9th
1986 TCU 3–8 1–7 8th
1987 TCU 5–6 3–4 T–5th
1988 TCU 4–7 2–5 T–5th
1989 TCU 4–7 2–6 T–7th
1990 TCU 5–6 3–5 T–5th
1991 TCU 7–4 4–4 T–5th
TCU: 40–58–2 21–48–1
Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten Conference) (1992–1996)
1992 Minnesota 2–9 2–6 10th
1993 Minnesota 4–7 3–5 T–8th
1994 Minnesota 3–8 1–7 11th
1995 Minnesota 3–8 1–7 10th
1996 Minnesota 4–7 1–7 T–9th
Minnesota: 16–39 8–32
Total: 159–131–3
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ "Coach Wyatt Newsletter". Retrieved April 8, 2007.
  2. ^ 1986 infraction report
  3. ^ "Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium". Texas State University–San Marcos. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2010.