Former Oklahoma football coach John Blake has died at 59, the school announced Thursday.
Blake, a former Sooners nose guard under Barry Switzer, coached his alma mater from 1996 to 1998 and was an assistant at the college and in the NFL. Switzer told KWTV’s Dean Blevins that Blake died of a heart attack while out walking.
Blake served as an assistant at Tulsa, at Oklahoma and with the Dallas Cowboys before landing the Sooners’ top job at age 34 on Dec. 31, 1995. He became the first Black head coach in any sport in school history and went 12-22 with the Sooners.
“We are stunned and saddened by the news of Coach Blake’s passing,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a prepared statement. “He was never hesitant in displaying love for his family, his players or how much he valued the honor of being a Sooner. His legacy as OU’s first Black head coach in any sport is incredibly meaningful and will live on forever. We offer our heartfelt thoughts and our prayers to his family. He was a Sooner through and through.”