|Born||September 1, 1929|
|Died||February 8, 2013 (aged 83)|
|Alma mater||University of Portland (1951)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1950||Portland Columbia HS (OR) (assistant)|
|1951||Butte Central Catholic HS (MT) (assistant)|
|1952–1955||Butte Central Catholic HS (MT)|
|1956–1959||Kalispell Flathead HS (MT)|
|1960–1962||Montana State (assistant)|
|1978||Oakland Raiders (assistant)|
|1979||St. Louis Cardinals (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|3 Big Sky (1964, 1966–1967)|
6 PCAA/Big West (1977, 1982, 1985, 1988–1989, 1991)
2 WAC (1992–1993)
James Joseph Sweeney (September 1, 1929 – February 8, 2013) was an American football player and coach, the head coach at Montana State University (1963–1967), Washington State University (1968–1975), and California State University, Fresno (1976–1977, 1980–1996), compiling a career college football record of 201–153–4 (.567). Sweeney's 144 wins at Fresno State are the most in the program's history.
Born in Butte, Montana, Sweeney was the youngest of seven children of Will and Kate Sweeney; his father was a hard-rock miner who emigrated from Ireland. As a youth in Butte, he was a top pitcher and outfielder in baseball, and graduated from Butte Central Catholic High School in 1947.
Sweeney played college football as an end at the University of Portland in Oregon, and graduated in 1951. After his junior year, the school dropped football as an intercollegiate sport, and Sweeney spent his senior season of 1950 as a high school coach at Columbia High School in Portland.
Following graduation he returned to Montana and was a high school assistant at his alma mater, Butte Central, for a season. He was its head coach from 1952 to 1955, and at Flathead High School in Kalispell from 1956 to 1959. Sweeney moved up to the college ranks in 1960 as an assistant coach at Montana State in Bozeman, and was promoted to head coach in 1963. He compiled a 31–20 (.608) record and three Big Sky conference championships in his five seasons with the Bobcats, where one of his starting quarterbacks was Dennis Erickson. At Montana State, Sweeney is credited with convincing Jan Stenerud, a Norwegian on a skiing scholarship, to go out for the football team as a kicker. Stenerud went on to become the only "pure" kicker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His salary at MSU in 1967 was $15,000.
After his success in Bozeman, he moved up to the Pac-8 Conference at Washington State in Pullman, where he started with a one-year contract at $20,000 in 1968. He had only one winning season and compiled a 26–59–1 (.308) record in eight seasons. His team's most noteworthy accomplishment was the defeat of Rose Bowl-bound Stanford in 1971 to garner him NCAA District 8 Coach of the Year honors. After a disappointing conclusion to the 1975 season (winless in conference), Sweeney resigned at WSU a week after the season ended.
He was promptly hired at Fresno State, where he coached for two seasons before becoming a National Football League (NFL) assistant for two years. He spent the 1978 season with the Oakland Raiders in John Madden's final season, and the 1979 season with the St. Louis Cardinals under Bud Wilkinson, who was fired before the season's end. Sweeney returned to Fresno State as head coach in December 1979 for 17 more seasons; he compiled a 144–74–3 (.658) record and eight conference championships (PCAA/Big West and WAC) in 19 seasons. Sweeney retired from coaching following the 1996 season with 201 wins in 32 seasons.
Sweeney was the father of 9 children: Jim Sweeney, Peggy Sweeney, Sheila Sweeney, Carol Sweeney, Mary Lou Dion Sweeney, Daniel Sweeney, Colline Sweeney, Patty Negrete Sweeney, and Kevin Sweeney, whom he coached at Fresno State. His wife and mother of all his children, Lucille (Cile) Carollo Sweeney, was his high school sweetheart from Butte; she died at age 57 in 1988 from an intracranial hemorrhage. He later married June Sweeney and they resided in Fresno. Two of his grandsons played Pac-10 football: Nate Fellner at Washington and Kyle Negrete at USC. Sweeney's grandson, Beau, played at California before transferring in 2011.
Sweeney died in Fresno in 2013 at age 83. He and his wife had recently moved to a senior living home due to his failing health, which included a stay at St. Agnes Medical Center.
Head coaching record
|Montana State Bobcats (Big Sky Conference) (1963–1967)|
|1964||Montana State||7–4||3–0||1st||W Camellia|
|1966||Montana State||8–3||4–0||1st||L Camellia|
|Washington State Cougars (Pacific-8 Conference) (1968–1975)|
|Fresno State Bulldogs (Pacific Coast Athletic Association) (1976–1977)|
|Fresno State Bulldogs (Pacific Coast Athletic Association / Big West Conference) (1980–1991)|
|1982||Fresno State||11–1||6–0||1st||W California|
|1985||Fresno State||11–0–1||7–0||1st||W California||16|
|1988||Fresno State||10–2||7–0||1st||W California|
|1989||Fresno State||11–1||7–0||1st||W California|
|1991||Fresno State||10–2||6–1||1st||L California|
|Fresno State Bulldogs (Western Athletic Conference) (1992–1996)|
|1992||Fresno State||9–4||6–2||T–1st||W Freedom||22||24|
|1993||Fresno State||8–4||6–2||T–1st||L Aloha|
|1996||Fresno State||4–7||3–5||T–5th (Pacific)|
|Fresno State:||144–74–3||83–41–2||*Includes forfeit by Louisiana–Lafayette|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
- Olderman, Murray (November 7, 1986). "Family affair at Fresno State". Nevada Daily Mail. (Nevada, Missouri). NEA. p. 10.
- "Passings: Jim Sweeney". Los Angeles Times. February 10, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Calcaterra, John (January 6, 1968). "Sweeney showed baseball talent". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 13.
- "Coaching Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. p. 384. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Caraher, Pat (November 10, 1968). "Cougar defense keyed on run, not pass". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 3B.
- Uptagrafft, Michael (October 21, 1971). "Sweeney gets coaching honor". The Times-News. (Hendersonville, North Carolina). UPI. p. 9.
- "Sweeney new head football coach at Washington State University". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). January 6, 1968. p. 9.
- "Sweeney says he'll stay". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. December 14, 1973. p. 21.
- Big Sky Conference Football Media Guide[permanent dead link]
- Putnam, Pat (November 4, 1968). "Big Kick Out Of A Strange Game". Sports Illustrated. CNN. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- "All-Time Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- Missildine, Harry (January 6, 1968). "New WSU coach Sweeney faces task with optimism". Spokesman-Review. p. 10.
- "Omen indicates fortune of Cougars may brighten". Spokane Daily Chronicle. January 6, 1968. p. 13.
- Washington State Football Media Guide
- Pacific-10 Conference Media Guide
- Witter, Steve (June 20, 2002). "The Swingin' Seventies". Scout.com. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
- "Sweeney uses option, quits as WSU boss". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. December 1, 1975. p. 1B.
- Missildine, Harry (December 1, 1975). "Cougar coach Jim Sweeney resigns". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 14.
- "Cougar coach Jim Sweeney calls it quits". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). Associated Press. December 1, 1975. p. 10.
- Derrick, Merle (December 9, 1975). "Sweeney takes Fresno post". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 31.
- Missildine, Harry (December 10, 1975). "Sweeney to Fresno". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 25.
- "Sweeney goes south". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 10, 1975. p. 2D.
- "Jim Sweeney named Fresno State coach". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon. Associated Press. December 10, 1975. p. 12.
- "Sweeney quits Raiders or was he dismissed?". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. February 21, 1979. p. 4B.
- "Sweeney's back in Fresno post". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 20, 1979. p. 35.
- Fresno State Football Media Guide
- Western Athletic Conference Football Media Guide
- She's the Signal Caller Father, Son Answer To, Washington Post, Wednesday, August 27, 2008; Page J05
- "Ex-Cougar coach's wife dies in Fresno". Spokane Chronicle. wire services. May 5, 1988. p. C3.
- Missildine, Harry (May 5, 1988). "Lucille Sweeney; great lady". Idahonian. Moscow, Idaho. p. 9A.
- "Jim Sweeney dies at 83". ESPN. February 9, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- "Jim Sweeney". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on September 1, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2011.