Former UW Standout and EWU Head Football Coach Passes Away

Brent Wooten played in both the 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowl for the Huskies before a long coaching and teaching career at Eastern

Brent Wooten, a standout football player for the University of Washington who went on to become head coach at Eastern Washington University, passed away on Monday (Aug. 29). He was 72.

A celebration of his life will take place on Friday, Sept. 9 from 2-6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express in Cheney, Wash.

“The entire Eastern Washington University family is saddened to hear of Brent’s passing,” Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves said. “He has deep roots in this state, including the University of Washington and Eastern, and we are proud of the legacy he leaves. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, including all of his former teammates, players and classmates.”

After serving five seasons as an assistant coach at Eastern, he was the school’s head football coach for three seasons from 1968-70, compiling an 11-18 record as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). His teams were 10-9 in the Evergreen Conference, including a 4-2 record in 1969.

One of the players he coached was Dick Zornes, who went on to spend 26 years at Eastern as a player, coach and administrator. Zornes was head coach for 15 seasons from 1979-93, and Wooten was a volunteer assistant the first two years.

“He was a player-oriented coach,” praised Zornes. “He formed a tight bond with his players and was very good to us. He helped us in a lot of ways – not only football but academically and away from the field.

“After I started coaching, he was somebody I sought out for advice and assistance,” he continued. “He volunteered to help me coach and was a real asset to helping us develop our program as we transitioned to NCAA Division I. We welcomed his ability to coach and his knowledge of the game.”

Wooten was a three-sport athlete at Walla Walla (Wash.) High School where he played for his father, Boots Wooten. As a senior running back/defensive back in 1957, Walla Walla finished 8-0 and was recognized as the State Champion in the final Associated Press poll. Wooten earned All-State honors in football, basketball and track and field, and later was inducted into the Walla Walla High School Hall of Fame.

He would go on the letter three seasons at the University of Washington, where he was a halfback and defensive back on the school’s back-to-back 10-1 seasons in 1959 and 1960. Washington played in the Rose Bowl following both seasons, starting with a 44-8 victory over Wisconsin in Jan. 1, 1960. The next year, he caught a touchdown pass in a 17-7 victory over No. 1 ranked Minnesota in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1961. That victory helped the Huskies win the national championship trophy presented by the Helms Foundation, and that squad was later inducted into the University of Washington Athletics Hall of Fame.

He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Washington, and later returned to obtain his master’s degree.

Prior to coming to Eastern, he was an assistant coach at Columbia Basin Community College in Pasco, Wash., for teams that were a collective 17-0-1 in the regular season. The 1962 team lost 20-0 to Santa Ana in the Junior Rose Bowl.

He first came to Eastern to serve as an assistant football coach under Dave Holmes for five seasons from 1963-67, helping the Savages go 34-13-1. In 1967, Eastern advanced to the NAIA championship game and finished with an 11-1 record.

Wooten originally coached in the offensive backfield in 1963, coached defensive backs in 1964, then returned to offense in 1965. He was in charge of the defense in 1966 and 1967.

He also served as athletic director at Eastern in the 1968-69 and 1969-70 school years. In addition, Wooten was wrestling coach for five seasons from 1963-68 and the school’s swimming coach for one season in 1972-73.

Following his tenure in the athletic department, he continued to teach at Eastern, where he spent more than 30 years as a professor in the Eastern Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics (HPERA) department.

“He was a good friend and I had a lot of respect for him,” Zornes added. “He was very intelligent and helped a lot of people through football and education. He was an excellent faculty member and for years ran our intramurals program by himself. He will be missed by a lot of people.”


Obituary Provided by the Family

Brent Alan Wooten “Wooter” passed away August 29, 2011 in Spokane after a lengthy illness at the age of 72.  He was born in Anacortes in 1939 to Richard “Boots” and Thelma Wooten.  They moved to Walla Walla from Anacortes early where he grew up with a basketball in one hand and a football in the other.  While at Walla Walla High School (WaHi) he played in the state basketball tournament in 1955.  During his senior year, 1957, as a running back and defensive back, they won the A.P. Balloting Poll for a state championship with an 8-0 record.  Also that year he was selected to All-State football, basketball and track and was later inducted into WaHi’s School Athletic Hall of Fame.  After high school he married Barbara Porter and together they had two girls, Debbie and Cindy, while at the same time starting his college football career at the University of Washington where he played half back and defensive back on the school’s 1960 and 1961 winning Rose Bowl teams, catching a touchdown pass in the 1961 game against #1 ranked Minnesota for a 17-7 victory that gave the Huskies a national championship. The team was later inducted into the UW Hall of Fame.   Brent graduated with a degree in Physical Education and later earned his Masters degree at the UW.  After finishing his undergrad he was hired as assistant football coach at Columbia Basin Community College where his team played in the Junior Rose Bowl in 1962, and had a collective regular season record of 17-0-1.  He then went on to Eastern as assistant football coach under Dave Holmes bringing with him a number of fine CBC transfers.  Over the next five years their combined record was 34-13-1 and advanced to the NAIA national championship game in 1967 where the Savages finished with an 11-1 record.  He became head coach and Athletic Director at Eastern from 1968-70.  He also served as wrestling coach from 1963-68.  Following his tenure in the athletic department, he remained at Eastern for more than 30 years as professor in the Health/Physical Education and Recreation department and also enjoyed serving as the director of intramurals.  During this time he met Margaret Davies and they were married in 1990.  Following his retirement in 1999, he became active in his Native American tribe serving as a Samish Tribal Council member working tirelessly to promote Samish educational initiatives and helping to establish educational scholarship funds for tribal members.  Brent was known for his willingness to help any student in any situation to achieve their college educational goals.  He will be remembered for his great, outgoing, friendly personality and his ability to meet people and get things done.  He also expressed great love for his animals and most of all for Margaret and his family.  Brent, you will be dearly missed as a husband, father, grandfather, friend, coach and instructor.  Brent was preceded in death by his father and mother and brother, Brian.  He is survived by his loyal companion and wife Margaret, two daughters Debbie McCarson (Bill) of Sammamish, Wa., Cindy Fricke (Darren) of Mt. Gilead, Ohio, step son Jim of Spokane, Wa., four grandchildren Bryce, Curtis, John and Jenny and two great grandchildren Cody and Ethan, and two nephews Scott and Jeff Wooten.

There will be a celebration of his life at the Holiday Inn Express in Cheney on September 9th, 2011 from 2-6pm.  Hotel accommodations available 509-235-1100.  Ask for Wooten discount.  Donations can be made to SCRAPS (Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service) 

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