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Former Sugar Bowl Executive Director Mickey Holmes Passes Away
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Mickey Holmes, executive director of the Sugar Bowl from 1979-93, passed away on Wednesday after a long illness. He was 72 years old.
Holmes began and ended his tenure with the Sugar Bowl with Alabama winning national championships. In between he saw three other national title performances while also witnessing four Heisman Trophy winners and nine Hall of Fame coaches taking part in the game. He was integral in the Sugar Bowl's continued partnership with the Southeastern Conference and retaining its position as one of the most respected bowls in the country, as well as being a key to the bowl's first corporate sponsorship agreement with USF&G.
"Mickey Holmes was one of the key people behind putting the Sugar Bowl into the position to be what it is today," said Allstate Sugar Bowl Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoolahan. "He took over the event in a time of increased competition among bowls and lifted the stature of the game even higher than it had already been. Without his efforts and his ability to build relationships with the SEC, television networks, corporate sponsors and those throughout college football in general, there is no telling where we would be today."
Holmes took over the reins of the Sugar Bowl in May of 1979 and his first Sugar Bowl experience came as undefeated Alabama, under legendary head coach Bear Bryant, defeated Lou Holtz's Arkansas squad on Jan. 1, 1980, 24-9, for Bryant's final national title. The following year, Hall of Famer Vince Dooley and Georgia rode star running back Herschel Walker to the national title with a 17-10 victory over Notre Dame to complete an undefeated season.
In 1983, longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno earned his first national championship with a 27-23 upending of Dooley and Georgia in a battle between the top two teams in the nation. The 1990 Sugar Bowl saw Miami clinch a national title with a 33-25 win over Alabama.
Holmes' final Sugar Bowl was another true national championship match as No. 2 Alabama and head coach Gene Stallings rolled to a 34-13 victory over No. 1 Miami and its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Gino Torretta.
In addition to Walker and Torretta, Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson (1984) and Vinny Testaverde (1986) also played in the New Orleans Classic. Hall of Fame coaches in the game during Holmes' tenure included Bryant, Dooley, Holtz, Stallings, Bobby Bowden, Pat Dye, Tom Osborne, Bo Schembechler and George Welsh.
Holmes had served in athletic-conference administration for nearly 20 years before joining the Sugar Bowl. A native of Maynard, Iowa, he attended Upper Iowa University and graduated from the University of Iowa in 1960. After graduation, he served as the sports information director at Grinnell College in Iowa before directing the news service for the Midwest Collegiate Athletic Conference.
In 1964, he joined the staff of the Big Eight Conference as an assistant commissioner. Following eight years with the Big Eight, Holmes became commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference in 1972. At the time of his election to the MVC post, he ranked as the youngest person named to a commissionership of a major athletic conference.
Holmes was born on May 14, 1938. He is survived by his wife, Judy, and three children, Ellen, Eric and Sara.
There will not be a funeral service. Donations in his name can be made to either of the following:
Boy Scouts of America, National Council
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
National Kidney Foundation, Inc.
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016