HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Buddy Teevens, the innovative Ivy League football coach and former Stanford coach who brought robotic tackling dummies to Dartmouth practices, died Tuesday of injuries he sustained from a bicycle accident in March. He was 66.
School president Sian Leah Beilock and athletic director Mike Harrity announced Teevens’ death in a letter to the Dartmouth community.
“Our family is heartbroken to inform you that our beloved ‘coach’ has peacefully passed away surrounded by family. Unfortunately, the injuries he sustained proved too challenging for even him to overcome,” the Teevens family said in a statement to Dartmouth. “Throughout this journey, we consistently relayed the thoughts, memories, and love sent his way. Your kindness and letters of encouragement did not go unnoticed and were greatly appreciated by both Buddy and our family.”
Teevens had his right leg amputated following the accident in Florida. Teevens and his wife, Kirsten, were riding on a road in the St. Augustine area when he was struck by a pickup March 16.
Kirsten Teevens said her husband also suffered a spinal cord injury in the accident. The couple had moved to Boston to continue his rehabilitation closer to loved ones.
Buddy Teevens’ longtime assistant, Sammy McCorkle, has been leading the Dartmouth football team this season as interim coach. The Big Green opened the season last weekend with a loss to New Hampshire.
The school said McCorkle informed the team of Teevens’ death Tuesday, and the Big Green planned to play its home opener Saturday against Lehigh. There will be a moment of silence prior to the game and a gathering of remembrance afterward, the school said.
Teevens was a former star Dartmouth quarterback who went on to become the school’s all-time wins leader with a 117-101-2 record in 23 seasons. He coached the Big Green from 1987-1991 and returned in 2005. His teams have won or shared five Ivy League championships.
In 1978, he was the Ivy League player of the year, leading Dartmouth to a league title.
Teevens coached at Stanford from 2002-04, a three-season stretch that saw the Cardinal go 10-23 and finish no better than eighth in the then-Pac-10. Teevens never beat rivals Cal, USC and Notre Dame, and was fired after Stanford ended the 2004 season with a 41-6 loss to the Golden Bears in the Big Game. Teevens’ final Cardinal team lost five in a row after a 4-2 start.
Despite the lack of success on the field at Stanford, Teevens was respected by his players and the administration. He displayed his character by showing up to the announcement of his firing and meeting with the media.
“Unfortunately, it’s a win-loss business and I didn’t win enough ballgames,” Teevens told reporters. “The attitude I have is I do believe I improved the quality of the program. I appreciate the opportunity. When you look back, there are a lot of things that are could have, should have.”
Teevens was named the Dartmouth head coach the following season (he also was the head coach there from 1987-91), where he became his alma mater’s winningest coach. But his lasting legacy will be in his efforts to make football safer.
He reduced full-contact practices by focusing on technique, while still leading winning teams.
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He also led the development by Dartmouth’s engineering school of the the Mobile Virtual Player, a robotic tackling dummy that has also been used by other college programs and NFL teams.
Dartmouth’s football program has drawn national attention since Teevens in 2010 removed live tackling in practices to reduce the risk of concussions.
Known as the “Dartmouth Way,” traditional tackling dummies and robotic “moving” dummies developed in Dartmouth’s engineering school are used to practice tackling.
Teevens famously tells recruits that they’ll never tackle a Dartmouth player or be tackled by a teammate during their time at the school.
Teevens also tried to create more opportunities for women in college football, hiring Callie Brownson to be an offensive quality control coach for the Big Green in 2018. She was believed to be the first full-time Division I female football coach.
“Buddy was a Dartmouth original,” Beilock and Harrity said in their letter. “He will be greatly missed and dearly remembered by so many members of the community whose lives he touched and changed for the better.”
Teevens is survived by his wife, their daughter, Lindsay, and son, Buddy Jr., along with four grandchildren.