Beginning our 7th year and over 2500 pages. A blog for fans of Track and Field from the 1950's and 60's, culled from various articles in sports journals of the day with added commentaries from readers who lived and ran and coached in that era.
We're the equivalent of an American Legion post of Track and Field but without cheap beer. You may contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or write a comment at the end of a given posting.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
V.5 N. 71 Bob Timmons R.I.P.
This from the US Track and Field Coaches Association website
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Legendary Kansas track & field and cross country coach Bob Timmons, who led his Jayhawk teams to four NCAA titles and 31 conference championships, passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 91. He is survived by his wife, Pat; children, Tammie, Beckie, Perkie and Dan, as well as two grandchildren.
Timmons served as the head coach of the Kansas track & field and cross country squad for 22 seasons from 1966-88. “Timmie’s” teams captured 13 Big Eight indoor titles, 14 outdoor titles and four cross country league titles. He led the Jayhawks to three NCAA indoor championships in 1966, 1969 and 1970. Timmons’ 1970 outdoor team tied for the national championship with Oregon, Brigham Young and Drake to give him four titles in five years. To this day, Timmons’ four NCAA Championships are the most among any head coach in Kansas Athletics’ history.
“The Kansas Track & Field family has lost a legendary figure in our history,” said current KU track & field head coach Stanley Redwine. “Coach Timmons led KU to unprecedented success during his time here and should be remembered, not only as a great coach, but as a great mentor as well. He continuously strived to set a standard of excellence that we fully recognize to this day. His contributions of our home cross country course of Rim Rock Farm also shows what a truly dedicated Jayhawk he was. Our thoughts are with Pat, their children and the rest of the Timmons family during this difficult time.”
“KU has lost a true treasure,” said Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger. “Coach Timmons was one of the all-time greats. His legacy, though, does not end with championships and medals. His real legacy is how much he cared about his student-athletes and the University of Kansas.”
Born in Joplin, Missouri, Timmons grew up in Pittsburg, Kansas, where he attended Pittsburg High School. He joined the Marines in 1943 and spent a year deployed in the South Pacific during WWII. Upon returning to the states Timmons turned his attention to coaching.
He began his career in track & field with the Jayhawks as a student manager and assistant coach starting in 1946 until he graduated in 1950. He worked and learned under another Kansas track & field coaching legend, Bill Easton, during his time as an undergrad, which ignited his love for coaching and mentoring young athletes.
He spent eight years as a high school track, swimming and football coach, beginning his career at Caldwell High School in 1950 and also spending time at Emporia High School, Wichita West High School and Wichita East High School before returning to his alma mater in 1965. Timmons helped the Wichita East swimming program to prominence, enjoying eight-straight undefeated years in all competitions and boasting 52 individual state champions and seven state swimming titles. His high school teams also ran to four cross country crowns and six state track championships.
Timmons took over the Kansas program for the future Hall of Famer, Easton, in 1966 and continued to take the Jayhawk program to new heights over the next 22 years. In addition to all the team’s success, he oversaw the coaching and development of seven Olympians, 16 world record holders, 77 NCAA All-Americans and 24 NCAA Champions. Included on his highly impressive résumé, was being named the U.S. Track & Field Coach Association (USTFA) Coach of the Year in 1975 as well as being tabbed as the District V Coach of the Year in 11 of his 22 seasons at KU.
Timmons’ coaching career also included teaching one of the world’s best track athletes in Jim Ryun. Recruited to Kansas by Timmons, his former high school coach, Ryun emerged as one of the most iconic track athletes in American history. In 1964, at the age of 17, Ryun became the first high schooler to run a sub-four-minute mile. In fact, his high school mile mark of 3:55.3 stood for 31 years. With Timmons leading the way in Lawrence, Ryun put together a spectacular stint at KU from 1965 to 1969, he owned world records in the 880 yards, 1,500 meters and mile run and added an additional four American records during his time under Timmons. Ryun was a five-time NCAA champion and, to this day, still holds 13 Jayhawk school records.
He was also the main force behind the creation of one of the top cross country courses in the nation, the home of Kansas Cross Country, Rim Rock Farm. Timmons acquired the land to the north of Lawrence in the early 1970s and quickly turned it into the main home for his cross country squads by 1974. Even after his time at KU came to an end, Timmons remained the caretaker at Rim Rock Farm until he gifted it to the University in 2004. Rim Rock has been the host site for some of the top meets in the nation and the region as it hosted the 1998 NCAA DI and DII Cross Country Championships, 2006 and 2014 Big Championships, numerous Kansas State High School Championships, as well as the upcoming NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in November.
Timmons handed off the reins of the KU track program in 1988, but continued to maintain his close ties to the team. He remained a loyal supporter at Jayhawk home meets and continued to make appearances at the Kansas Relays for many years after his retirement.
In 2011, Timmons became the 11th Jayhawk to be inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. Along with the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, Timmons is also a member of the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, the Kansas Relays Hall of Fame, the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas High School Activities Association Hall of Fame and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches of America (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame.
Services for Bob Timmons are pending.
Bob Timmons and his wife Pat
From Bill Stone
"I am deeply saddened by the news of Coach Timmons' passing. He was a great man and a dear friend. I owe him much. He took a skinny little kid and made him a runner. In the 1957-58 school year, under the Timmons regimen, Wichita East won both the state championship in cross country and in track. That was my senior year and my only year to run on the track team and second year to run cross country. I won the 880 in record time but was disappointed that I had missed his pointed time for me which was one second faster. He knew how to get the most out of his athletes as many can testify. He taught me the benefits of discipline, hard work, setting goals, and humility that were of great value to me during my lifetime. I remember well how after winning the state track championship we urged him to accept the trophy. He would have none of it. He said it was our trophy and we alone earned it. We finally relented but each of us knew that we would not be celebrating had he not been our coach.
When it came to choosing a college I narrowed it down to KU and OSU. I sought coach Timmons counsel knowing that he was a KU alum. He was impartial in helping me through the process and I ended up choosing Oklahoma State. There is no doubt that had he gone to KU at that time I would have chosen KU. In the summers during my college years we spent several evenings together at his home and would talk running, coaching, academics, and life in general. To say that he had a huge impact on my life would be an understatement.
My wife Toni and I offer our sincere condolences to Pat and the family. We will all miss him but remember him well."
Bill(y) Stone From New York Times, August 5, 2015
Bob Timmons, 91, a Demanding Coach Who Developed a Star Runner, Is Dead
Timmons was the university’s track and cross-country head coach from 1965 to 1988, winning four N.C.A.A. titles and 15 Big Eight titles and nurturing a stellar roster of athletes who broke 16 world records and won seven Olympic berths.
None of his charges were as celebrated as Ryun, a tall, gangly Kansan who loomed over his 5-foot-4 coach. Ryun ran in three Olympics and became a world-record holder in the 880-yard and 1,500-meter events.
Timmons had earlier coached him at Wichita East High School in Kansas, where, in 1963, Ryun made the team as a 16-year-old sophomore after failing to make his junior high school track squad.
In his first meet, Ryun ran the mile in 4 minutes 32 seconds. By his fourth, his time was down to 4:21, and Timmons told him he had the potential to become the first high school runner to better the magic goal of four minutes.
A year later Ryun did just that, running the mile in 3:59.0. A year after that, he won the Amateur Athletic Union national championship in 3:55.3. The fastest time of his career was 3:51.1, in 1967, a world record that lasted almost nine years.
Timmons practiced a kind of tough but exuberant discipline that harked back to his three years in the Marines, when he fought in the South Pacific during World War II.
“Bob Timmons was probably the most demanding track coach of all time, pushing his runners to the brink — propelling some to greatness and others to the scrap heap,” the magazine Runner’s World wrote in 2009. The article went on to say, “To succeed in his program, you had to trust that the upbeat drill sergeant knew your body better than you did.”
Timmons once dropped an athlete from his college team for drinking beer in the off-season. He once sent a team captain home from a national championship meet because he had not shaved.
But in midcareer Timmons relaxed the reins, concluding that he had been using outdated standards.
“I used a sport to sell a way of life,” he told Track & Field News in 1973. “I’m feeling I can’t make a contribution to the life of the athlete anymore, that I can’t change them; they’re too old and mature. So we’re winning, but I feel like a failure. I can’t cope with what I see.
“But when you come down to it, the problem was me. I had to get out of coaching or change.”
He told his athletes of his problem, and he changed.
Robert Leroy Timmons was born on June 20, 1924, in Joplin, Mo., and raised in Pittsburg, Kan. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Kansas.
He coached Kansas high school teams in track, cross-country and swimming for 14 years. One high school swimmer, Jeff Farrell, went on to win two gold medals in the 1960 Olympics.
Timmons became the University of Kansas’ freshman track coach in 1964, and a year later, after a brief stint as Oregon State’s coach, he returned to Kansas as head coach. In addition to Ryun, he coached such outstanding athletes as the sprinters Cliff Wiley and Mark Lutz, the Olympic javelin thrower Sam Colson, the Olympic pole-vaulters Jan Johnson and Terry Porter, and the high jumper Tyke Peacock. Seventy-seven of his athletes were N.C.A.A. all-Americans.
After retiring from Kansas, Timmons became an artist, a sculptor and a high school track and volleyball coach. He gave the University of Kansas his 96-acre farm outside Lawrence, Rim Rock Farm, as its cross-country course. (Ryun went on to serve in Congress, from 1996 to 2007, as a Republican representing a Kansas district.)
Timmons is survived by his wife, Pat; a son, Dan; three daughters, Rebecca, Priscilla and Susan, known as Tammie; and two grandchildren, the university said.
Timmons felt he might be remembered as a hard-line coach. But Candace Dunback, who oversees the University of Kansas Hall of Fame, once said: “He’s expressed regret to me about being too hard. He felt Jim Ryun could handle it, but not everyone was Jim.”
Ryun had no regrets. “There were those who didn’t make it under the Timmons program,” he said, “but the larger number of us did and became not just better athletes but, more importantly, better human beings.”