MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Former University of Minnesota football coach Cal Stoll, who coached the Golden Gophers from 1972-1978, died Friday at Fairview-University Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Stoll, who was 76, received a heart transplant 13 years ago. He had been ill for more than a month as heart trouble caused damage to other vital organs. He died around 5 p.m. Friday, the spokeswoman said.
Stoll had a 39-39 record at Minnesota, where he coached quarterback Tony Dungy, now the head coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Stoll's biggest win came in 1977, when the Gophers defeated Michigan, the top ranked team in the nation, 16-0. Minnesota also beat UCLA and Washington that season to finish 7-5 before losing to Maryland in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
"That year was great. It was all of us working together as a team," Ken Foxworth, a defensive back on the 1977 team, told the Star Tribune. "That was something that was so incredible. It was something I'll never forget."
Stoll lettered for the Gophers in 1949 and his coaching legacy at Minnesota has gained momentum in recent years. What once might have seemed average -- the 39-39 record and one bowl appearance in seven years -- looked much better when his successors met with less success against lesser schedules.
Stoll is the last Gophers coach to leave the university with at least a .500 record.
After going 5-6 in 1978, Stoll was fired by athletic director Paul Giel and replaced with Joe Salem. Salem compiled a 19-35-1 record in five seasons as Minnesota spiraled to the bottom of the Big Ten.
Though the firing left some bad feelings, Giel said he and Stoll eventually came to have a good relationship.
"After I had a heart attack in July of 1981, he came to my hospital room," Giel told the Star Tribune. "All of a sudden he was there. I was laying in bed. He gave me a hug and he said to me, 'Some things are more important than any differences we had."'
Stoll had a heart transplant in 1987 and later started Second Chance for Life, a foundation that acts as a support group for heart transplant patients. The foundation is run by volunteers and draws hundreds of people to its workshop every year.
"He did a lot of things in those 13 years" after his heart transplant, said June Stoll, his wife of 51 years.
Said Foxworth: "The most important thing he did was give other people a chance to know hope was always there. That's what his legacy was as a man."
After graduating from the university, Stoll coached Mound High School, which led to an assistant job at Utah State. From there, he served as an assistant at Denver University, Georgia and Michigan State before landing the head coaching job at Wake Forest. In 1970, he led the school to its only ACC football title.
Besides his wife, Stoll is survived by two children, three grandchildren, two brothers and three sisters. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
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