|Year(s)||[[NFL season|]]–[[NFL season|]]|
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|Career highlights and awards|
Blanton Long Collier (July 2, 1906 – March 22, 1983) was an American football coach who led the University of Kentucky (1954–1961) and the Cleveland Browns (1963–1970). His 1964 Browns team is the most recent Cleveland team to win a professional sports championship.
Career[edit | edit source]
After graduating from Kentucky's Georgetown College, Collier went to work at Paris High School, where he coached several sports. After enlisting in the Navy during World War II, he was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago, where he met Paul Brown, who was in charge of the station's football team. When Brown took charge of the new Cleveland Browns after the war, he took Collier along as an assistant. Collier served under Brown from 1946 to 1953, a period in which the team won all four titles in the fledgling All-America Football Conference (AAFC) before moving to the National Football League (NFL) in 1950. That season the Browns captured the NFL title and then reached the championship game in each of the next five seasons, winning two more championships.
University of Kentucky[edit | edit source]
When Paul "Bear" Bryant left the University of Kentucky after the 1953 season, Collier accepted an offer to return to his home state. Collier had several future star coaches serve as assistants under him at Kentucky, including Don Shula, Chuck Knox, Howard Schnellenberger, Bill Arnsparger, Ermal Allen, Ed Rutledge, John North, and Bob Cummings. Standout players at Kentucky under Collier included Lou Michaels and Schnellenberger.
UK went 41–36–3, and 5–2–1 against arch-rival Tennessee, under Collier. Notable wins included a victory at #15 Georgia Tech in 1954 and defeats of #8 Ole Miss, #17 Tennessee in 1955, #12 Tennessee in 1957, and #20 Tennessee in 1959. However, Bear Bryant's shoes were hard to fill and Kentucky fired Collier in January 1962. Collier returned to Brown's staff in Cleveland. Collier is the last coach at Kentucky to have a career winning record there. The core of the team that Collier recruited formed the basis of the Thin Thirty. Collier's successor, Charlie Bradshaw, thinned the ranks from 88 to 30 players, that brutal season being chronicled in a book, The Thin Thirty, by Shannon Ragland.
Cleveland Browns[edit | edit source]
The Cleveland Browns that Collier returned to did not resemble the championship teams of the 1950s. Other teams had caught up to Brown's strategies. New owner Art Modell felt Brown had too much control and did not respect Modell's authority as team majority owner. Brown and Modell skirmished over the team's treatment of Ernie Davis and Brown's old-school discipline had stopped going over well with the players, especially Jim Brown and Bernie Parrish. After a 7–6–1 season in 1962, Modell fired Brown and offered the head coaching job to Collier. Collier only took the job at Brown's insistence, as Brown acknowledged that Collier had a family to support and thus could not refuse the opportunity; nonetheless, Brown himself had hard feelings toward Collier for replacing him.
Collier earned his players' respect by giving them more leeway both on and off the field. He let quarterback Frank Ryan change plays at the line of scrimmage and allowed more flexibility in pass routes and blocking schemes.
The changes paid off. In 1963, the team finished 10–4, and Jim Brown broke the NFL's single-season rushing record with 1,863 yards. The following season the Browns went 10–3–1 and upset the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, 27–0, in the league championship. Another Eastern Conference title followed in 1965, but the team lost the title game to the Green Bay Packers. Despite Jim Brown's retirement after the 1965 season, the Browns ran off another four consecutive winning seasons and went to the NFL championship game in 1968 and 1969.
Collier was a quiet but emotional man. When a player fell asleep during a film session, Collier did not yell at the player as Brown would have done, but instead criticized himself for not making the session interesting enough. Collier had great respect for black players, which helped endear him to Jim Brown and his teammates.
Browns' fans remember Collier's tenure as a golden age of Browns' football. The team was not shut out in any game and giant Cleveland Stadium sold out for almost every game played during Collier's stint in Cleveland.
Somehow Collier managed to achieve his success while going nearly deaf. Hearing loss forced him out of the head-coaching job after the 1970 season. He continued to work for the Browns as a college scout.
Quotes[edit | edit source]
“You can accomplish anything you want as long as you don’t care who gets the credit.” 
Head coaching record[edit | edit source]
College[edit | edit source]
|Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (1954–1961)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
| #Rankings from final Coaches' Poll. |
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
NFL[edit | edit source]
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|CLE||1963||10||4||0||71.4||2nd in Eastern Conference||-||-||-|
|CLE||1964||10||3||1||76.9||1st in Eastern Conference||1||0||Beat Baltimore Colts in NFL championship game|
|CLE||1965||11||3||0||78.6||1st in Eastern Conference||0||1||Lost to Green Bay Packers in NFL Championship game|
|CLE||1966||9||5||0||64.3||2nd in Eastern Conference||-||-|
|CLE||1967||9||5||0||64.3||1st in Century Division||0||1||Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Eastern conference championship game|
|CLE||1968||10||4||0||71.4||1st in Century Division||1||1||Beat Dallas Cowboys in Eastern Conference championship game, lost to Baltimore Colts in NFL championship game|
|CLE||1969||10||3||1||76.9||1st in Century Division||1||1||Beat Dallas Cowboys in Eastern Conference championship game, lost to Minnesota Vikings in NFL championship game|
|CLE||1970||7||7||0||50.0||2nd in AFC Central||-||-|
References[edit | edit source]
- New coach, new approach and new title. ClevelandBrowns.com.
Additional sources[edit | edit source]
- Carroll, Bob, et al. (1999). Total Football II. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-270174-6.
- Grossi, Tony (2004). Tales from the Browns Sideline. (Champaign, Ill.): Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 1-58261-713-9.
- Levy, Bill (1965). Return to Glory: the Story of the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Co. LCCN 65023356.
- MacCambridge, Michael (2004). America's Game. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50454-0.