Fred Akers
1938 - 2021
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AKERS, Fred (3/17/38 12/7/20) Fred S Akers, 82, former University of Texas head football coach, passed away on December 7, 2020 peacefully at his home in Horseshoe Bay, TX from complications due to dementia. Akers, who began his coaching career in the Texas High School ranks, also led college football programs at Wyoming and Purdue and later served as a motivational speaker. A virtual memorial service will be held January 12, 2021, at 11 am. Friends are asked to join the Akers family by following on the link at clcaustin.com/FredAkers. The link will be opened at 10:30 am. You can also visit the Christian Life Church website for additional information. As head coach at Texas, Akers compiled an 86-31-2 record (60-19-1 SWC) in 10 seasons. His 86 wins rank third on the all-time UT victory list behind Darrell Royal and Mack Brown. A native of Blytheville, Ark., Akers played at the University of Arkansas and served as a graduate assistant a season after finishing his playing career in 1959. He was a product of the Texas high school coaching ranks, having served as an assistant at Port Arthur and as head coach at Edinburg (19-9-1) and Lubbock High (7-3) before Royal hired him to join the Texas staff as an assistant for the 1966 season. While an assistant, he coached running backs, defensive backs and then was co-offensive coordinator before accepting the head coaching job at Wyoming in 1975. In two seasons, he took the Cowboys from 2-9 in his first year to an 8-4 record and a Fiesta Bowl appearance in 1976. He then returned as Texas' head coach in 1977 to replace the retiring Royal. With a new staff and a switch to the "I" formation to utilize the talents of Earl Campbell, Akers burst on the scene in 1977. His first team went 11-0 through the regular season, claimed the Southwest Conference Championship and spent the final half of the year atop the national polls. Only a 38-10 Cotton Bowl loss to No. 5 Notre Dame denied Akers a National Championship in his first season. Akers' teams won Southwest Conference titles in 1977 and 1983. The Longhorns had three 10-win seasons and four top-10 finishes in the polls under his guidance. He coached Longhorn Legend Campbell during Campbell's run to the 1977 Heisman Trophy, two Lombardi Trophy winners in Kenneth Sims and Tony Degrate, an Outland Trophy winner in Brad Shearer, 16 all-Americans and 48 All-SWC players. He followed the spectacular start in 1977 with nine consecutive winning seasons and nine bowl berths in a row. In 1978, the Longhorns were 9-3 and finished the year ranked ninth nationally. UT matched that mark in 1979 and earned a No. 12 national ranking. After dipping to 7-5 in 1980, Akers and the Longhorns returned in 1981 with a 10-1-1 record and climbed back into the nation's top spot midway through that season. UT's 14-12 upset of No. 3 Alabama in the Cotton Bowl vaulted Texas to a final No. 2 national ranking in 1981. In 1982, Texas was 9-3 and finished the year ranked 17th nationally. Akers again had the Horns in the hunt for a national title in 1983. Texas opened the season ranked third nationally and posted the second perfect 11-0 regular season mark and the second SWC Championship of his tenure, and spent all but one week in the nation's No. 2 spot. However, a 10-9 loss to No. 7 Georgia in the Cotton Bowl ended the title hopes for the Longhorns. A victory, coupled with a 31-30 loss by No. 1 Nebraska to Miami in the Orange Bowl, would have given Texas the national title, however UT finished the year ranked fifth. Akers' 1983 team produced a record 18 players who were taken in the NFL Draft the following spring. During the 1984 season, the Longhorns held the top spot in the national rankings before a 15-15 tie with No. 2 Oklahoma dropped them to No. 3. Following his departure from Texas in 1986, Akers accepted the head coaching job and the challenge of rebuilding a struggling Purdue program in 1987. He spent four seasons there before retiring from coaching. After returning to his ranch near Austin and eventually moving to Horseshoe Bay, he continued his years of helping people by becoming a motivational speaker. Akers was inducted into the Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame, Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Athletics Hall of Honor, Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. He is survived by the love of his life and wife of 59 years, Diane Akers; daughter Lesli Akers of Horseshoe Bay; daughter Stacey Delmonico and son in-law Bobby Delmonico of Austin; grandchildren Alixandra, Hunter and Danielle Akers; Zachary, Charli and Ryan Delmonico; 3 great grandchildren and various nieces and nephews. And not to be forgotten, his sidekick and loving companion Bitsy (the family Yorkie-poo). He was predeceased by his son Danny Akers of Austin. Fred was the son of the late H.O. Akers and Edna (Wilson) Akers of Blythville, AR, and guardian Mitchell Johns of Blythville, AR. He was one of nine children, with surviving sister Bonnie (Akers) Vaughn of Alamogordo, NM and David Akers of Blythville, AR. He lived a life of great success both professionally and personally. He is known by most for his famed coaching career, but to those who knew him best, he exemplified the qualities of a Christian leader whose integrity and kindness accompanied every move he made. By living a life of high standards and expectations, he inspired and encouraged the best in everyone around him, while making sure the TEAM (or family or business, etc.) was collectively empowered. He competed with the best, and never forgot or passed the least. He was a man of his word above all. The family would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the loving care provided by Linda McCrory, Kerri Giles, Jeannie Arnold, Martha Bailey and Darryl Sunberg. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Texas Advocacy Project at Development Department 1524 S. IH-35 Box 19, Austin, TX 78704, or visit their website at www.texasadvocacyproject.org.


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Published in Austin American-Statesman on Jan. 10, 2021.
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2 entries
January 10, 2021
Diane, Lesli, Stacey, and family,

I was so sorry to hear of Fred's passing. While we all know he is in a greater place, the earthly absence makes it difficult. My kids and I still revel in those great trips to places like The Meadowlands to beat Penn State, to Auburn to beat Bo Jackson and company, out to Palo Alto to beat a Stanford team coached by John Elway, Sr, and always the fact that we no longer feared going to Dallas in October. No coach is likely to ever match Fred's winning percentage against ranked teams. He was truly a great coach, but more importantly a great man, and true servant of God. He improved countless lives over the years. Thank you all for sharing him with us.

Hook em
Roger Mott
Friend
January 10, 2021
Diane I am so sorry to read about Fred’s death. I fondly remember both of you during the hay days of UT football. Hope you and family are well
Tom Coopwood
Friend
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