Oct. 23, 2003
Seattle - During halftime of Saturday's football game between Washington and USC a statue of former Husky coach Jim Owens will be unveiled. The sculpture will be permanently installed outside of the northwest gates at Husky Stadium following the halftime ceremonies.
The head coach at Washington from 1957 to 1974, Owens also served as the school's athletic director from 1960 to 1969. During his 18-year tenure, Owens' teams produced a record of 99-82-6.
Owens' 1959 team won the school's first conference championship in 24 years and went on to defeat Wisconsin 44-8 in the 1960 Rose Bowl. The victory marked the first Rose Bowl win in Washington history. A year later the Huskies returned to Pasadena and downed favored Minnesota 17-7. The Gophers had already been crowned national champions according to the poll system used at the time. The Helms Foundation, the only organization that released its final poll after the postseason bowl games, named the Huskies its national championship team that season.
Owens teams captured a third conference title in 1963 but lost to Illinois in the Rose Bowl 17-7 when starting quarterback Bill Douglas suffered an injury on Washington's first drive of the game. The 1963 team will be honored between the third and fourth quarters of Saturday's game.
Washington's 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowls marked a turn in the series between West Coast teams and their Big Ten Conference counterparts. Schools from the now-Pac-10 Conference had won just one of the previous 13 Rose Bowls before the Huskies' sweep.
Six consensus All-Americas, including Bob Schloredt, Roy McKasson, Rick Redman, Tom Greenlee, Al Worley and Calvin Jones, played for Owens.
A reunion of Washington's 1963 team and other players under Owens' tenure will take place Saturday morning during the Husky Huddle at Dempsey Indoor. The halftime ceremonies will include a tribute by the Husky Marching Band, a video presentation on Owens and the unveiling of the statue. A work crew will install the statue outside of the stadium during the third quarter of the game.
The fundraising effort for the statue was led by a group of former players and other alumni. The steering committee included Don McKeta, Charles Mitchell, Duane Locknane, Rick Redman, Joanne Meyers, Edean Ihlanfeldt and JoAnne Nichols. More than 160 individuals and families have donated funds for the statue and the Jim Owens Endowed Scholarship that will assist the Husky football program.
A native of Oklahoma City, Owens served two-and-a-half years with the Naval Air Corps during World War II. Following his service he enrolled at Oklahoma and played for coach Bud Wilkinson from 1946 to 1949. As a senior he earned All-American honors as an end and helped Oklahoma to a perfect 11-0 record. After playing professional football for one season with the Baltimore Colts, Owens began his college coaching career at Johns Hopkins. He joined Bear Bryant's staff at Kentucky for three seasons and also coached under Bryant for three seasons at Texas A&M. At the time he was named Washington's head coach in 1957, he was just 29 years old.
Owens has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame and was a charter member in the Husky Hall of Fame.
Owens, who is now 77 years old, resides in Bigfork, Montana with his wife Martha. They have four children.