Frank Burns, a former Rutgers standout quarterback who also ushered the Scarlet Knights into big-time college football, died Saturday. He was 84.
Still the winningest coach in school history, Burns first came to Rutgers as a quarterback in 1945. His 30 touchdown passes remains high on the school’s all-time list, ranking sixth, and he coached the Scarlet Knights for 11 years.
He finished his career 78-43-1, including an 11-0 season in 1976 in which he was named the Walter Camp coach of the year and a stunning 13-7 upset of Tennessee in Knoxville, on Nov. 3, 1979. Burns called it “the greatest victory of my career.”
Burns also led the Scarlet Knights to their first postseason game, the 1978 Garden State Bowl.
ts were ranked in each of the final four polls to close out the 1976 regular season, including a final national ranking of 17th in both the AP and coaches polls.
"We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Coach Burns and our thoughts and prayers are with the Burns family,” Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti said in a statement. “Coach Burns led our program to more victories than anyone and into National prominence. More importantly, he was the epitome of integrity and a true leader of men. We will miss Coach Burns deeply, but his legacy will forever live ‘On the Banks.’ "
As a player, Rutgers went 27-7 with Burns at the helm. He was also an honorable mention Associated Press All-American as a senior in 1949 and was the MVP of the College All-Star with 17 tackles against the NFL’s New York Giants.
He began his coaching career after graduation as the freshman backfield coach, then went 6-9-1 in two seasons (1951-52) as head coach at Johns Hopkins. He returned to Rutgers to coach the backfield in 1955-56, then was the head coach at Chatham (N.J.) High for four seasons before spending 12 seasons as an assistant at Rutgers prior to being named the head coach.