Iowa State football: Former Cyclones head coach Clay Stapleton passes away


Former legendary Iowa State football coach, Clay Stapleton, has died at the age of 93.

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The Associated Press (via ESPN) reports that his son, Van, confirmed the death in Missouri City, Missouri.

"Former Iowa State football coach and Florida State and Vanderbilt athletic director Clay Stapleton has died.Cyclones spokesman Mike Green said Stapleton’s son, Van, notified the school that his father died Thursday morning in Missouri City, Missouri. He was 93."

Stapleton played football at Tennessee on the offensive line as a guard. Before becoming a head coach, he was a line coach at Wofford from 1950-1952, and an assistant coach at Wyoming from 1953-1954 and Oregon State from 1955-1957. His one and only head coaching stint was at Iowa State.

The second-most winningest coach in Cyclones football history finished with a record of 42-53-4 from 1958-1967. He won seven games in back to back seasons in ’59 and ’60.

While Stapleton saw early success, he couldn’t get more than five wins in one season after 1960. He eventually became the school’s athletic director and the report reveals that he was a major part in getting both Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum built.

Stapleton moved on to be the AD at Florida State from 1971-1973 and Vanderbilt from 1973-1978.

The Canadian Football League is forced to punt on third down, but former head coach Clay Stapleton did it on purpose. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

There are two interesting nuggets about Stapleton. In ’59, he led the infamous squad known as the “Dirty Thirty.” They were named that due to only having 30 players healthy enough to put on the field. That’s pretty good considering Iowa State can barely get to six wins these days.

Another note is that he sometimes punted on third down. That sounds outrageous in today’s era, but back in the late 50’s it wasn’t unheard of. The game wasn’t as aerial as it is today; when teams faced a long third down conversion it wouldn’t be uncommon to see them line up normally, and then change their formation and get set for a quick kick. Because the defense didn’t have a guy deep to recover the ball, it would roll and field position would be flipped.

We give our sincere condolences to the Stapleton family and we thank the former head coach and athletic director for everything he did for Iowa State. Rest in peace.