Mickey Holmes (AP Photo)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Mickey Holmes, executive director of the Sugar Bowl during the period when coaches Bear Bryant, Vince Dooley and Joe Paterno won national championships there, has died. He was 72.
Holmes died Wednesday after a long illness, said Sugar Bowl spokesman John Sudsbury.
A native of Maynard, Iowa, Holmes was executive director of the college football event from 1979 to 1993, beginning and ending his Sugar Bowl tenure with Alabama winning national championships there.
He was integral in continuing the Sugar Bowl's partnership with the Southeastern Conference.
"Mickey Holmes was one of the key people behind putting the Sugar Bowl into the position to be what it is today," said Allstate Sugar Bowl Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoolahan. "He took over the event in a time of increased competition among bowls and lifted the stature of the game even higher than it had already been."
Holmes took over the management of the Suga r Bowl in May 1979. His first Sugar Bowl as its executive director came a few months later when Bryant won his final national title on Jan. 1, 1980. Bryant's undefeated Alabama team beat coach Lou Holtz's Arkansas squad 24-9.
The next year, Dooley and his Georgia team - powered by star running back Herschel Walker - won the national title, beating Notre Dame 17-10 to complete an undefeated season.
Paterno earned his first national championship in 1983 at the Sugar Bowl with a 27-23 win over Dooley and Georgia in a battle of the top two teams in the nation.
Holmes' final Sugar Bowl as director came a decade later when No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 1 Miami 34-13 for the national championship.
He had served in athletic conference administration for nearly 20 years before joining the Sugar Bowl. In 1964, he was an assistant commissioner with the Big Eight Conference and was commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference in 1972.
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