Sunday December 16, 2012

Bob Odell, a College Football Hall of Fame inductee who was the Williams College coach for 15 seasons, is dead. He was 90.

Odell passed away Saturday at his home near the Bucknell University campus. Odell retired to the Lewisburg, Pa., area shortly after retiring from coaching after leading the Ephs to a 4-4 season in 1986.

"He was a mentor to me," said Dick Farley, whose first job coaching in college was as an assistant on Odell's staff.

Farley spent 15 years as an assistant under Odell before taking over the head coaching position himself in 1987. Both Odell and Farley are members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Odell was inducted in 1992 and Farley was inducted in 2006.

"He was a class guy," Farley said Saturday. "He was very honest. He did things the right way. He was always about doing the best for the kids and the college."

Farley said that he got an interview through Williams athletic director Bob Peck, who had been the A.D. at Boston University where Farley played his college football.

Farley had come to Williams after playing two years for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League and coaching high school football and track in the Boston area.

"It was a great way to break in as a young guy," said Farley, who also said that Odell was the only head coach he ever worked for.

Odell was the head coach at Bucknell from 1958-64 and at the University of Pennsylvania from 1965-70, before taking the head coaching job at Williams.

Bucknell was Odell's first head coaching position, moving there after being an assistant at Wisconsin. While at Wisconsin, he coached 1954 Heisman Trophy winner, and former Baltimore Colts standout Alan Ameche.

Odell's playing resume is every bit as good as his coaching resume. A graduate of Pennsylvania, he was an All-America halfback. In 1943, he won the Maxwell Trophy and was second in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy to Notre Dame's Angelo Bertelli. Bertelli grew up in West Springfield.

In three years playing at Penn, Odell's teams went 18-6-2 and 13-0-2 against Ivy League teams. In a 13-13 tie against Army in 1943, Odell scored the tying touchdown by catching a pass and outrunning Glenn Davis to the end zone.

"He was a guy I would have enjoyed playing for," Farley said of Odell, "and having my son Scott play for."