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Charley Pell

Title Head coach
College B.A., Alabama, 1964
Sport Football
Born February 17, 1941(1941-02-17)
Place of birth Albertville, Alabama
Died May 29, 2001 (aged 60)
Place of death Southside, Alabama
Career highlights
Overall 83–43–5 (.653)
Bowls 2–3 (.400)
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
1 Mid-South Conference (1970)
1 Atlantic Coast Conference (1978)
Playing career
1961–1963 University of Alabama
Position Guard, Defensive Tackle
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Jacksonville State University
Clemson University
University of Florida

Charles "Charley" Byron Pell (February 17, 1941 – May 29, 2001) was an American college football player and coach. Pell is most notably remembered as the head coach at Clemson University and the University of Florida. He is credited with laying the foundation for the later success of both programs, but his coaching career was tainted by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules violations.


Early life and education

Charley Pell was born in Albertville, Alabama in 1941.[1] Neither of his parents had completed any education beyond the fifth grade.[1] He did not play football until his senior year of high school.[2] After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, after being recruited to play football for the Crimson Tide by coach Bear Bryant.[1] Pell was undersized at 187 pounds, but he became an all-Southeastern Conference guard and defensive tackle, and played on Bryant's first national championship team in 1961.[1]

Coaching Career

After graduating from the University of Alabama in 1964, Pell stayed in Tuscaloosa, serving as a graduate assistant under Bryant.[1] Charlie Bradshaw, a former Alabama assistant and current Kentucky Wildcats football head coach, offered Pell a postion as the defensive line coach at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.[2] While coaching at Kentucky, Pell met his future wife, Noel Ward.[2]

Jacksonville State

Pell earned his first head coaching job at the age of 28 when he was hired to lead the Jacksonville State University football program in 1969. He coached the Gamecocks to four consecutive winning seasons, including a 10–0 record and a Gulf South Conference championship in 1970. His overall record as the Gamecocks head coach was 33–13–1.[3]

In 1974, Pell left NAIA Jacksonville State to become defensive coordinator for Division I Virginia Tech in Blackburg, Virginia.[2] He stayed with the Virginia Tech Hokies football team for just two seasons.[2]


After taking the defensive coordinator position at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina in 1976, he was elevated to be the new head coach of the Clemson Tigers football program in 1977 when Red Parker was fired.[2] His Tigers received their first bowl invitation in 1977 in eighteen years, and won their first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship in 1978 in eleven years. Pell was named ACC Coach of the Year in 1978, and compiled an 18–4–1 record.[4] After he left Clemson following the 1978 regular season, significant NCAA recruiting and other rules violations came to light during successor Danny Ford's tenure at Clemson, which led to the Tigers football program being placed on NCAA probation for two years in 1982.[2]


His two-year turnaround of the Clemson program led to Pell being hired by the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He coached the Florida Gators football team from 1979 to 1984, posting a 33–26–3 record.[5] Pall and the Gators were winless in his first season in Gainesville, but he quickly improved the program with winning records and bowl invitations during the next four years. The Gators' improvement from 0–10–1 in 1979 to 8–4 in 1980 was the largest one-year turnaround in major college football history at the time.[6] His 1983 Gators finished 9–2–1 and were ranked sixth in the final Associated Press football poll—the highest-ever final poll ranking for the Gators.[2]

NCAA investigation and resignation

After the 1982 season, the NCAA began an investigation into possible rule violations by Pell and his staff at Florida, for which he took full responsibility. Pell originally asked to be allowed to resign at the end of the 1984 season, but when the NCAA announced that Florida was suspected of 107 major infractions, university president Marshall Criser fired Pell after three games.[7] His successor, Galen Hall, and the 1984 Florida Gators football team won the university's first Southeastern Conference (SEC) football championship, but the SEC university presidents voted to vacate the Gators' 1984 SEC title after the season was over because of the NCAA violations. In January 1985, the NCAA ultimately placed Florida on two years of probation, banned the Gators from television appearances and bowl games, and penalized the program twenty football scholarships.[2] After two years of probation, the NCAA penalties had run their course and had their full effect, and Pell's successors did not win more than seven games in a season between 1986 and 1989.[8]

During his time at the University of Florida, Pell led the fund-raising efforts to make several major facility improvements at Florida Field, including the construction of a world-class training facility (the Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. Athletic Training Center), a major expansion of the south end zone seating and the construction of the first luxury skyboxes. Pell is credited by many with bringing the Florida football program to national prominence and for turning around the finances of the school's athletic department, but at the same time condemned for being responsible for NCAA violations that put the Gators on probation for five years.[9]

Later life

After being fired by Florida, Pell was unable to secure another coaching job, a frustration that was a factor in a suicide attempt in 1994. Pell was treated for clinical depression and became a spokesman for depression awareness. He coached one season of high school football at a new Lake Region High School in Polk County, Florida, but his new players were undersized and inexperienced, and the team finished 1–9.[2] He worked in real estate brokerage for several years before dying of lung cancer in 2001.[1]

Charley Pell was married to the former Ward Noel.[1] Pell was survived by three children and two grandchildren.[2]

Record as head football coach

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Jacksonville State Gamecocks (Alabama Collegiate Conference) (1969)
1969 Jacksonville State 3–6
Jacksonville State Gamecocks (Mid-South/Gulf South Conference) (1970–1973)
1970 Jacksonville State 10–0 1st
1971 Jacksonville State 6–3
1972 Jacksonville State 7–2–1
1973 Jacksonville State 7–2
Jacksonville State: 33–13–1
Clemson Tigers (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1977–1978)
1977 Clemson 8–3–1 4–1–1 3rd L Gator 19th
1978 Clemson 10–1* 6–0* 1st Invited to Gator* 7th* 6th*
Clemson: 18–4–1 10–1–1
Florida Gators (Southeastern Conference) (1979–1984)
1979 Florida 0–10–1 0–6 9th-Tie
1980 Florida 8–4 4–2 4th-Tie W Tangerine 19th
1981 Florida 7–5 3–3 4th-Tie L Peach
1982 Florida 8–4 3–3 6th-Tie L Bluebonnet
1983 Florida 9–2–1 4–2 3rd-Tie W Gator 6th 6th
1984 Florida 1–1–1** 0–0–1**
Florida: 33–26–3 14–16–1[10] * Did not coach bowl game.
** Fired after three games.
Total: 84–43–5[11]
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also


  • Nissenson, Herschel, Tales From College Football's Sidelines, Sports Publishing, New York, New York (2001).
  • Pleasants, Julian M., Gator Tales: An Oral History of the University of Florida, University of Florida, Gainesvile, Florida (2006). ISBN 0-8130-3054-4.
  • Proctor, Samuel, & Wright Langley, Gator History: A Pictorial History of the University of Florida, South Star Publishing Company, Gainesville, Florida (1986). ISBN 0-938637-00-2.
  • Yaeger, Don, Undue Process: The NCAA's Injustice for All, Sports Publishing, New York, New York (1991).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Frank Litsky, "Charley Pell Is Dead at 60; Ousted as Florida Coach," The New York Time (May 31, 2001). Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bruce Lowitt, "Coaching at all costs," St. Petersburg Times (May 30, 2001). Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  3. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, Jacksonville State Coaching Records. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  4. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, Clemson Coaching Records. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  5. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, Florida Coaching Records. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  6. ^ Antonya English, "100 things about 100 years of Gator football," St. Petersburg Times (August 27, 2006). Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  7. ^ Jack Hairston, "UF axes Pell as football coach," Gainesville Sun, pp. 1A & 8A (September 17, 1984). Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  8. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, Florida Yearly Results 1985–1989. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  9. ^ "What they're saying," St. Petersburg Times (May 30, 2001). Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  10. ^ Southeastern Conference, All-Time Football Standings 1970–1979 and All-Time Football Standings 1980–1989. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
  11. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, All-Time Records, Charley Pell Records by Year. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jim Blevins
Jacksonville State University Head Football Coach
1969 – 1973
Succeeded by
Clarkie Mayfield
Preceded by
Red Parker
Clemson University Head Football Coach
1977 – 1978
Succeeded by
Danny Ford
Preceded by
Doug Dickey
University of Florida Head Football Coach
1979 – 1984
Succeeded by
Galen Hall


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