George Perles, former Michigan State football coach and member of the Board of Trustees has passed away at the age of 85.
A former MSU football player under Duffy Daugherty, Perles served as an assistant coach at MSU from 1959-1970, when he went to the NFL as a defensive line coach under Hall of Famer Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh. He later served as defensive coordinator and associate head coach of the Steelers before returning to East Lansing in 1983 as the head football coach.
In his 12 years in charge in East Lansing Perles led the Spartans to two Big Ten titles, seven bowl games, and a win in the 1988 Rose Bowl, the last one before Mark Dantonio took MSU there in 2013.
In 1990 Michigan State named Perles as its Athletic Director, while he remained head football coach. It was a controversial decision made to keep Perles at MSU instead of going back to the NFL. He would resign the position in 1992 but remain the football coach until 1994.
That 1994 season would ultimately be one that MSU would forfeit the entire season following an external investigation that found infractions within the athletic department. Perles was personally cleared of any wrongdoing.
In November of 2006 Perles was elected to serve on the Michigan State Board of Trustees, a post he held until November of 2018 when he resigned due to health reasons.
Ultimately the legacy of George Perles is an uneven one. He was one of the more successful football coaches in school history, and his coaching tree includes one Nick Saban. But his time as coach ended in controversy.
His time on the Board of Trustees was similar, as MSU experienced some of its best times, and then ultimately its worst while he served on the board.
But there is no doubting the impact Perles made in East Lansing, as he was a major figure in the university and its community for close to 60 years.