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The Passing of a Bobcat Legend

The Passing of a Bobcat Legend
Kermit Blosser, Ohio's first national champion and hall-of-fame coach, dead at age 95

Feb. 19, 2006

Courtesy Ohio University

ATHENS, Ohio - Kermit Blosser passed away on the evening of February 18, 2006, at the Hickory Creek Nursing Center in The Plains, Ohio. Ohio University's first national champion in any sport, Blosser had recently celebrated his 95th birthday.

Kermit, the son of a rail worker, was born on Feb. 1, 1911, and raised in Enterprise, Ohio. He showed up for Ohio University's freshman football practice in the fall of 1928 as a self-described "little 175-pound neophyte from Logan High School."

As a sophomore end, Kermit started his first game in the 1929 season opener at Indiana, which turned out to be an 18-0 victory for the Bobcats. The following week, he started the home opener against West Liberty State College that was the first-ever game played in the newly built Peden Stadium, which still serves as the home field for the Ohio football squad.

The Bobcats won that game as well, 26-0, and finished the year 9-0. More impressively, they outscored their opponents 306-13 that initial season at Peden Stadium. They followed it up with another undefeated season in 1930, an 8-0-1 campaign in which they outscored their opponents 227-32.

During Kermit's three varsity seasons, Ohio lost only one game, a 7-6 decision to Indiana in the 1931 season opener. His teams went 24-1-1 during that span while claiming three Buckeye Conference championships and outscoring their opponents 705-59. To cap off his collegiate career, Kermit won the school's first national title in any sport by taking the 191-pound wrestling crown in 1932.

Following his graduation from Ohio University in 1932, he was a successful basketball coach first at Glouster High School and later at Columbus South High School. Then, after serving as a gunnery officer aboard a warship in the Pacific Ocean during World War II, Kermit returned to the Athens campus as an assistant coach for football, basketball and wrestling.

He was on the Bobcat coaching staffs that won the school's first Mid-American Conference football title in 1953 under Carroll Widdoes and four of Jim Snyder's seven conference championship basketball teams.

Despite having never played the game of golf, Kermit became Ohio's first head golf coach in 1947. He quickly became a scratch golfer himself while his program - led by future PGA champion Dow Finsterwald - won its first conference title in 1951 by 24 strokes. The Bobcats proceeded to win nine of the next 10 MAC championships as well.

His teams ended up winning 18 conference titles, giving Kermit more championships than any other coach in any sport in MAC history. He was inducted into the Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame's second class in 1966 and the charter classes of the NCAA Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980 and MAC Hall of Fame in 1988. After retiring from teaching physical education in 1977 and coaching in 1988, Kermit was honored for his 42 years of service by his MAC peers, who named the conference's golf-coach-of-the-year award after him.

Even in retirement, Kermit continued to impact Ohio Athletics as a special assistant to the department's director. Up until his final days, he came to his office in the Convocation Center almost every day and attended as many home athletic events as he could.

"This is a great loss to the athletic department and to our golf program," said Bobcat golf coach Bob Cooley, who played under Blosser and succeeded him as Ohio's golf mentor in 1988. "He gave me a lot of good advice and I learned a tremendous amount from him over the years. He was one of the all-time greats and was very well respected on the national level. He will be deeply missed."

Kermit was preceded in death by his beloved wife, the former Mildred Howard of Glouster, Ohio. He is survived by their children, Richard Blosser and his wife Suzy of Savannah, Ga., and Carol DeCaminada and her husband Joseph of Clarkston, Mich., as well as four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is being planned by the athletics department and details on that event will be announced at when they are finalized in the coming days.