John Merritt
Biographical details
Born(1926-01-26)January 26, 1926
Falmouth, Kentucky
DiedDecember 13, 1983(1983-12-13) (aged 57)
Nashville, Tennessee
Playing career
1947–1949Kentucky State
Position(s)Guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1952–1962Jackson State
1963–1983Tennessee A&I/State
Head coaching record
Overall235–70–12
Tournaments1–2 (NCAA D-I-AA playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
7 black college national (1965–1966, 1970–1971, 1973, 1979, 1982)
5 MAA/Midwestern/Midwest (1957, 1963–1966)
2 SWAC (1961–1962)
Awards
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (1995)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1994 (profile)

John Ayers Merritt (January 26, 1926 – December 13, 1983) was a head football coach at Jackson State University and Tennessee State University. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

He was born in Falmouth, Kentucky, and is an alumnus of Kentucky State University, where he played guard on the football team from 1947 to 1949. He earned the nickname "Big John". He graduated in 1950 and earned a master's degree from the University of Kentucky in 1952.

He coached Jackson State University from 1953 to 1962, where he compiled a record of 63–37–5. Merritt led Jackson State to back-to-back appearances in the Orange Blossom Classic in 1961 and 1962 before being hired by what was then Tennessee A&I.

At Tennessee State (as Tennessee A&I was renamed in 1968), Merritt had four undefeated seasons, claimed four Midwest Athletic Association titles, seven black college football national championships: (1965, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1979 and 1982) and earned the school's first-ever NCAA Division I-AA playoff victory in 1982.

Merritt coached many players who went into the National Football League, among them were Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Joe Gilliam, Claude Humphrey, Mike Hegman, and Richard Dent. His coaching record at Tennessee State was 172–33–7, and had an .828 winning percentage—far and away the best in school history. [1]

John Merritt Boulevard in Nashville, Tennessee is named in his honor, and the Tennessee State football team opens every season with the John Merritt Classic game against Alabama A&M University, until recently the Classic headlines other HBCU teams, in particular 2015—Tennessee State will play host to Alabama State University on September 6, 2015.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Jackson State Tigers (Midwest Athletic Association) (1952–1957)
1952 Jackson State 3–5–1
1953 Jackson State 5–4
1954 Jackson State 1–7–1
1955 Jackson State 5–4
1956 Jackson State 6–2–2
1957 Jackson State 6–2 T–1st
1958 Jackson State 6–2–1
Jackson State Tigers (Southwestern Athletic Conference) (1958–1962)
1959 Jackson State 6–4 4–3 4th
1960 Jackson State 6–4 4–3 4th
1961 Jackson State 9–2 6–1 1st
1962 Jackson State 10–1 6–1 1st
Jackson State: 63–37–5
Tennessee A&I Tigers (Midwest Conference / Midwestern Conference) (1963–1966)
1963 Tennessee A&I 6–3 3–0 1st
1964 Tennessee A&I 8–2 3–0 1st
1965 Tennessee A&I 9–0–1 2–0 1st T Grantland Rice
1966 Tennessee A&I 10–0 2–0 1st W Grantland Rice
Tennessee A&I / State Tigers (NCAA College Division / Division II independent) (1967–1976)
1967 Tennessee A&I 6–3
1968 Tennessee State 6–2–1
1969 Tennessee State 7–1–1
1970 Tennessee State 11–0 W Grantland Rice
1971 Tennessee State 9–1 W Grantland Rice
1972 Tennessee State 11–1 W Pioneer
1973 Tennessee State 10–0
1974 Tennessee State 8–2
1975 Tennessee State 5–4
1976 Tennessee State 7–2–1
Tennessee State Tigers (NCAA Division I/I-A independent) (1977–1980)
1977 Tennessee State 8–1–1
1978 Tennessee State 8–3
1979 Tennessee State 8–3
1980 Tennessee State 9–1
Tennessee State Tigers (NCAA Division I-AA independent) (1981–1983)
1981 Tennessee State 9–2 L NCAA Division I-AA Quarterfinal
1982 Tennessee State 9–0–1 L NCAA Division I-AA Semifinal
1983 Tennessee State 8–2–1
Tennessee A&I / State: 172–33–7 10–0
Total: 235–70–12
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

See also

References