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Archive for Saturday, November 6, 2004

Ex-MU coach Onofrio dies

Tigers’ leader from 1971-77 was 83

November 6, 2004

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— Al Onofrio, whose two decades on Missouri's football staff included designing Dan Devine's defenses and seven years at the program's helm, died Friday at a Phoenix-area hospital. He was 83.

Onofrio, the Associated Press Big Eight coach of the year in 1972, died at 7 a.m. at Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Ariz., said one of his sons, Mike Onofrio of Columbia.

Onofrio last month began feeling ill, checked into a hospital and roughly a week ago was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Mike Onofrio said.

The elder Onofrio, who had been undergoing chemotherapy and dialysis, on Friday "just went up to the nurse and said he wasn't feeling very well, and his heart just gave out," the son said. "We didn't realize it was going to happen this fast."

Onofrio sculpted Devine's defenses from 1958-70, a stretch in which the Tigers went 93-37-7, won two Big Eight titles and made six bowl appearances before Devine left Missouri to coach the NFL's Green Bay Packers in 1971.

Onofrio succeeded Devine, going 38-41 from 1971-77. Along the way, Onofrio guided the Tigers from a 1-10 record in his first season to the 1972 Fiesta Bowl and the 1973 Sun Bowl, the latter culminating his most successful season at Missouri, with the Tigers going 8-4 and finishing ranked 17th nationally.

At Missouri, Onofrio coached four All-Americans, and more than 30 Tigers went on to play professional football.

Onofrio was inducted into the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.

Survivors include his wife, Joan; five sons and one daughter.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Church of the Resurrection, Tempe. Burial will be Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Mesa, Ariz.

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