EAST LANSING, MI— Former Michigan State Football head coach Denny Stolz passed away Thursday, May 25 at the age of 89 (1933-2023).
Stolz joined the MSU staff in 1971 and served as defensive coordinator for the final two seasons of Hall of Fame coach Duffy Daugherty’s career before being named the program’s 16th head coach on December 13, 1972. The Spartans had a 19-13-1 record three seasons under Stolz (1973–75), including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 1974 and 1975.
After coming off 6-5 in his first season as head coach in 1973, the Spartans bounced back and in 1974 proudly finished third in Big Ten scoring with a 6-1-1 record in the league ( 7:3:1 overall). received the Big Ten Coach of the Year award. MSU closed out the season on a five-game winning streak, including a legendary win over leaders Ohio State on November 9 at Spartan Stadium. Levi Jackson’s 88-yard touchdown streak with 3:17 minutes remaining gave MSU a 16-13 win over the Buckeyes in a game ranked among the top ten games of the 1970s (No. 7) by The Athletic . MSU finished the season 12th in the AP poll and 18th in the UPI poll, the best result for the Spartans in eight years.
Michigan State went 7-4 in Stolz’s final season in 1975 at East Lansing, which was marked by a 10-3 win at No. 8 Notre Dame on October 4th.
After retiring from MSU, Stolz coached at Bowling Green for nine seasons (1977–85) and had an overall record of 56-45-1 and a 49-26-1 record in the Mid-American Conference, including two championship titles ( 1982, 1985). Stolz finished his career at San Diego State and won a Western Athletic Conference title in his first season with the Aztecs, going 7-1 in the league and 8-4 overall while earning a berth in the Holiday Bowl secured. He was also named WAC Coach of the Year in 1976. Stolz was 16-19 overall in three seasons with SDSU (1986–88).
Before coaching at Michigan State, Stolz went 35-15 in six seasons (1965-70) at Alma College and led the Scots to three MIAA titles (1967, 1968, 1970) and two undefeated seasons ( 8:0). 1967 and 1968). He began his coaching career in the high school ranks at Haslett High School (record of 40-13-1 in eight years from 1955-62) and was also an assistant at Lansing Eastern.
In 21 seasons as a collegiate-level head coach, Stolz compiled an overall record of 126-92-2 (.577) and was five-time conference coach of the year (1967 MIAA; 1974 Big Ten; 1982, 1985 MAC; 1986 WAC).
Stolz graduated from Alma College in 1955 and played both football and baseball for the Scots. A Mason High School graduate who played football, basketball and baseball for the Bulldogs, Stolz was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Stolz and his family,” said former Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. “I’ve gotten to know Denny over the years as a head coach and have always enjoyed our time together. I invited him to practice and he attended games at Spartan Stadium for many years. He really enjoyed seeing his former players on our golf outings. He was a… true Spartan.