Longtime Browns defensive coach Dave Adolph passes away at 79
BEREA, Ohio – Dave Adolph, the former Akron guard who directed the Cleveland Browns’ defense in the 1980s and was Michigan’s senior defensive football analyst, died Sunday. He was 79.
Adolph’s son, Mark, confirmed the death.
“The Adolph family has roots in Ohio and deep roots with the Cleveland Browns,” Mark Adolph said. “We really appreciate the Browns fans and players for all the support and love they’ve given him and the outpouring of condolences through this difficult time as a family.”
Adolph assisted Jim Tressel’s and Urban Meyer’s staffs at Ohio State and multiple staffs at Michigan from 2005-2016.
“We have lost one of the truly great ones,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted. “Coach Dave Adolph who brought joy to all he me and associated. ‘Do you love football?'”
Adolph was the defensive coordinator in four AFC championship games with three teams. He spent nearly a decade with the Browns, joining Sam Rutigliano’s staff as defensive line coach in 1979 and becoming defensive coordinator in 1984. After a one-year break, Adolph returned to Marty Schottenheimer’s staff in 1986 as defensive coordinator during the team’s back-to-back AFC Championship games in 1986 and 1987.
Adolph spent the rest of his NFL years in the AFC West with the Chargers (1985, 95-96), Chiefs (92-94, 99) and Raiders (89-91, 97-98). A native of nearby Mogadore, he was a commissioned officer in the Air Force from 1959-61 and began his coaching career at Cleveland’s Shaw High School in 1961.
He worked with Woody Hayes at Ohio State (1977-78) and served as Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator at the University of San Diego (2004-07). He also coached at Akron (’63-64), Connecticut (65-68), Kentucky (69-72), Illinois (73-76).