Len Casanova, 97; Former Football Coach at University of Oregon

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Len Casanova, 97, who won 82 games during his 16-year tenure as football coach at the University of Oregon, died late Monday in Eugene after a long illness.

Casanova coached the Ducks from 1951 to 1966 and guided the team to three bowl appearances, including a 10-7 loss to the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the 1958 Rose Bowl. Casanova had an overall 82-73-8 record at Oregon, recording the second most wins in the school’s history, then spent four years as the school’s athletic director from 1967 to 1970. The athletic center at Autzen Stadium is named after Casanova.

“Everything that Oregon athletics is today, it owes to Len Casanova,” said Bill Moos, the current athletic director. “He has been the pillar, the strength and the inspiration for our program for over 50 years.”

Casanova, who had an overall record of 104-97-10, began his college head coaching career in 1946 at his alma mater, Santa Clara University. He led the school to a 21-13 win over Kentucky in the 1950 Orange Bowl.


He spent one year at Pittsburgh before taking over at Oregon.

At Oregon, Casanova coached two future Hall of Famers--Mel Renfro and Dave Wilcox--and helped assistants George Seifert, John McKay and John Robinson start their own illustrious coaching careers.