Bronze Tribute Honors Legendary Coach
In a ceremony described by one of his former players as “long overdue,” a bronze bust of legendary Aztec football coach Don Coryell was dedicated June 14 at the Fowler Athletics Center. More than 50 family members, campus administrators, athletics staff, former players and those who helped create the bust attended the event.
(l-r) Don Coryell's son-in-law Mike Lewis ('81.'83), granddaughter Loni Lewis ('05) and daughter Mindy Lewis pose for photos with the new bust of the legendary coach.
SDSU Associate Athletic Director Bob Moosbrugger served as emcee for the event. The first speaker he introduced was former Aztec quarterback Brian Sipe (’70), who spoke on behalf of Coryell’s former players.
"We were all changed by Coach Coryell and it's an honor for us to be considered part of his legacy here," said Sipe. "He was a special man, so this is overdue in the minds of so many of us here."
Former SDSU president Stephen L. Weber was instrumental in finding funding for the artistic tribute. He told the gathering how Coryell’s football influence transcended SDSU.
"I think we have to recognize that not only did he make a great impact on San Diego State and the lives of many of the student athletes with whom he worked, he literally made an impact on the sport of football,” Weber observed. “We have a lot of people who do good and important work here and rarely change the national scene. This is a guy who changed the way we play football. He was an extraordinary man."
“A GREAT, GREAT TRIBUTE”
With Weber, sculptor Jess Dominguez
and family members surrounding her, Coryell’s daughter, Mindy Lewis, removed the black cloth draped over the bust revealing an unmistakable image that drew applause from the crowd.
Coryell family members say they are pleased with sculptor Jess Dominguez's bronze bust of legendary Aztec football coach Don Coryell.
“I think it's a great, great tribute,” said Mindy’s husband, Mike Lewis (’81,’83). “One specific issue is the furrow of the brow because he always had that intensity and I think Jess really captured him and what he was all about."
Mindy Lewis agreed.
"How Jess was able to capture that just from photographs is amazing," she said. "I didn't know what to expect and when I actually saw it, it really got to me. I've gotten a little weepy here looking at it.
"Thank you, San Diego State and Dr. Weber and everybody in the athletic department at San Diego State. It makes me all warm and fuzzy."
The bust sits atop a specially-constructed pedestal featuring a plaque with a summary of Coryell’s accomplishments. Entitled “The Innovator of the Modern Passing Game,” the list includes his 104-19-2 record as the head coach at San Diego State.
Currently, the bust is displayed in the entrance of the football offices on the second floor of the Fowler Athletics Center. Moosbrugger said it may someday be relocated to a plaza proposed for outside the center to be built near the practice football fields and named for Coryell.
No matter where the likeness of her father resides on campus, Mindy Lewis said she and her family will always stop by for a visit. “We'll come rub his head," she said.
And what would Coach Coryell think of the tribute?
"He'd love it,” she said. “He would just absolutely love it."