EUGENE, Ore. — Former Oregon football coach Jerry Frei has died after an extended illness related to heart disease. He was 76.
Frei, who at the time of his death was the Denver Broncos' director of college scouting, died Friday at his home in Denver while working on a scouting report for the NFL draft.
Coaching at Oregon from 1967 to 1971, Frei compiled a record of 22-29-4. His teams included future NFL stars Dan Fouts and Ahmad Rashad, but Frei was criticized for his liberal coaching style, and because he never beat Oregon State.
Frei coached Oregon at a time when Eugene was filled with anti-Vietnam War protests. He let his players wear long hair and express themselves as they pleased, a coaching style that offended many local boosters.
After a 30-29 loss to the Beavers in 1971, alumni pressured the school's athletic director, Norv Ritchey, to force Frei to fire assistants on a coaching staff that included future NFL coaches John Robinson and George Seifert.
Robinson quit in January 1972 to become an assistant at USC. Two days later, Frei resigned rather than dismiss any of his other assistants.
After leaving Oregon, Frei spent the rest of his career as an NFL assistant coach with the Denver Broncos, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears.