FORMER PLAYER DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND HEAD COACH PASSES AWAY
The University of Washington family lost one of its favorites Sunday night according to a release from the University. Jim Lambright spent four decades at the University of Washington as a players, assistant coach then head coach according to the release.
As the Huskies’ defensive coordinator under head coach Don James from 1978 through 1992, Lambright was the architect of an attacking style that transformed college football in the early 1990s and helped lead Washington to the 1991 National Championship. When James retired prior to the start of the 1993 season, Lambright became the UW’s head coach, a position he held through 1998. He compiled a 44-25-1 record as head coach, and won a Pac-10 championship in 1995.
Born April 26, 1942, in Everett, Wash., Lambright grew up in Snohomish County, the eldest contemporary of fellow future Pac-10 football coaches Mike Price (Washington State), Keith Gilbertson (UW and California) and Dennis Erickson (Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State).
A 1960 graduate of Everett High School, Lambright came to the UW to play for head coach Jim Owens. He lettered from 1962 through 1964, playing on the Huskies’ 1963 team that won a conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. In 1964, he earned All-Coast honors as a defensive end, and also earned the Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award, Husky football’s oldest and most prestigious team award.
DESTINED TO LEAD
After a glorious collegiate playing career “Lambo” as he was effectionaly known went straight into coaching. His first stint was being an assistant coach at Fife High School and Shoreline Community College before joining Owen’s staff at UW in 1969. He worked under Owens for six seasons before being retained when James was named the Husky head coach in 1975.
Lambright was named defensive coordinator before the 1978 season and helped build several top-class units, winning six Pac-8 and Pac-10 titles under James.
Prior to the start of the 1993 season, when James retired, Lambright was immediately elevated to head coach. His teams went 7-4 in both 1993 and 1994 and then won a share of the Pac-10 title in 1995, going 7-4-1 overall and 6-1-1 in conference.
Lambright’s 1996 squad went 9-3 and the 1997 team finished 8-4, beating Nick Saban’s Michigan State team, 51-23, in the Aloha Bowl. The Huskies went 6-6 and played in the Oahu Bowl in 1998, Lambright’s last season as head coach.
Lambright is survived by his daughter, Kris and son Eric; and grandchildren Caroline and Matt.
The family suggests donations to the University of Washington Medical Center or, in this time of need, any local charity or cause supporting efforts to suppress the COVID-19 crisis, including first responders, local hospitals and local businesses.
STATEMENTS FROM UW
“Coach Lambright was a legend at the UW, particularly when it came to playing the kind of physical, aggressive defense that his teams were known for. He was always supportive of the program that he loved so much. His impact on Husky football will not be forgotten.”
Statement from UW head coach Jimmy Lake
“I’m deeply saddened by the news of Coach Lambright’s passing. Coach Lambright is synonymous with Husky football and he gave so much to this program both as a player and coach. My love for the University of Washington was sparked during Coach’s tenure on our football staff and I’m grateful for the impact he had on so many. I’d like to extend heartfelt condolences to his family, former players, teammates and coaches.”
Statement from UW director of athletics Jennifer Cohen