John Blake
Biographical details
Born(1961-03-06)March 6, 1961[1]
Rockford, Illinois
DiedJuly 23, 2020(2020-07-23) (aged 59)
Dallas, Texas
Playing career
Position(s)Nose guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1987–1988Tulsa (TE/WR)
1989Oklahoma (DL)
1990–1992Oklahoma (LB)
1993–1995Dallas Cowboys (DL)
2003Mississippi State (DL)
2004–2006Nebraska (DL)
2007–2010North Carolina (DL)
2016Buffalo Bills (DL)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors

John Fitzgerald Blake (March 6, 1961 – July 23, 2020) was an American college and professional football coach. He played college football as a nose guard for the Oklahoma Sooners. He served as the head coach of the Sooners from 1996 to 1998.

Coaching career

Blake served as the head coach for the Oklahoma Sooners from 1996 to 1998, succeeding the one-year term of Howard Schnellenberger. He compiled a career record of 12–22, which is the worst three-year stretch at the University of Oklahoma football history. Despite his overall record as college head coach, Blake was a great recruiter, bringing in more than half of the 2000 championship team's 22 starters, including future NFL players like safety Roy Williams and linebacker Rocky Calmus.[2]

Prior to his arrival in Norman, Blake had served as the defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys, working alongside future UNC coach Butch Davis (2007–11) as well as former Sooner and then Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer. The Dallas Cowboys won two Super Bowls (1993 & 1995) during Blake's stint. Blake also worked as a defensive assistant at Oklahoma in the early 1990s under Gary Gibbs.

Blake served as the defensive line coach at Mississippi State University in 2003. He later held the same position on Bill Callahan's staff at the University of Nebraska from 2004 to 2006. Blake resigned his position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Sunday, September 5, 2010.[3] On February 16, 2016 Lamar University announced that they had hired Blake to serve as their defensive line coach.[4] After one month at Lamar and during the Cardinals' spring camp, Blake accepted the defensive line coach position with the Buffalo Bills on March 15, 2016 following the Bills' firing of Karl Dunbar.[5]


Blake was involved in a controversy towards the end of his tenure as defense line coach for the Dallas Cowboys. According to The New York Times, Blake made claims to head coach Barry Switzer that Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman treated his black teammates differently and was a racist.[6] In response to this, many members of the Cowboys organization, including black coaches and players, came to the defense of the quarterback. Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, and Charles Haley went on the record to stand by Aikman. Aikman also asked a number of black players, including Deion Sanders and Darren Woodson, if there was a problem, and they said there wasn't one.[6] Blake was dismissed from his position with the Cowboys to begin serving as head coach at Oklahoma.[7]

In 2010, Blake resigned from North Carolina in the midst of an investigation into players' relationships with agent Gary Wichard,[8] who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.[9] At the time, Blake was suspected of being an employee and receiving cash benefits from Wichard.[8] Blake denied all allegations, and said he was secretive about his communications with Wichard because he did not want to reveal his friend's then-secret cancer diagnosis.[10] On March 12, 2012, the NCAA announced that Blake had received a three-year show-cause penalty, which effectively barred him from college coaching during that period. The NCAA determined that Blake had received personal loans from Wichard and failed to disclose them to UNC, and also misled NCAA investigators.[9]


Blake died on the morning of July 23, 2020 at the age of 59.[11] He suffered a heart attack while walking near his home and was transported to Baylor University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.[12]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing
Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 Conference) (1996–1998)
1996 Oklahoma 3–8 3–5 4th (South)
1997 Oklahoma 4–8 2–6 T–4th (South)
1998 Oklahoma 5–6 3–5 T–4th (South)
Oklahoma: 12–22 7–17
Total: 12–22


  • "Football Coaches". Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  • "OU Football Tradition: Head Coaches". 2009-09-19. Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  • "Oklahoma Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  • Dozier, Ray (2006). The Oklahoma Football Encyclopedia. Champaign, Illinois: Sports Publishing L.L.C. ISBN 1-58261-699-X.
  • "2009 OU Football Guide". University of Oklahoma Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
  • Gola, Hank (1996-01-26). "TEAMMATES INSIST AIKMAN NO BIGOT". NY Daily News. Archived from the original on 2010-09-07.
  • Dalurio (2009-02-25). "Skip Bayless Poised To Aggravate Troy Aikman All Over Again". Deadspin. Archived from the original on 2010-09-07.
  1. ^ "John Blake – Profile". University of North Carolina Football. Archived from the original on 2010-02-13. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  2. ^ Evans, Thayer (2009-01-05). "Stoops Looks to Prove He Can Win on His Own". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-04-09.
  3. ^ "John Blake resigns from North Carolina". ESPN. September 5, 2010.
  4. ^ LU hires two new defensive coaches
  5. ^ Mike Florio (March 15, 2015). "Bills replace Karl Dunbar with John Blake". Pro Football Talk. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Friend, Tom (January 26, 1996). "SUPER BOWL XXX; Cowboys Trying to Put Race Issue to Rest". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Plaschke, Bill (January 27, 1996). "Cowboys Really Suffering Switzercide". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Money trail ties agent, ex-UNC coach". Yahoo. September 30, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "UNC banned from 2012 postseason". March 12, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  10. ^ Staples, Andy (October 26, 2011). "Andy Staples: The case against John Blake". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  11. ^ "Former OU Coach John Blake Dies". Tulsa World. July 23, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  12. ^ "Former Oklahoma, Princeton high school coach John Blake dies". Dallas News. July 23, 2020. Retrieved July 28, 2020.