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Offensive Line Guru & Former AU Assistant Alex Gibbs Passes Away Monday

If you want to take a look at all of the offensive line coaches that have coached and impacted football as much as Alex Gibbs, your list will be real short.

Gibbs, the guru of the zone offense, passed away Monday at age 80. He made most of his reputation coaching the zone offense of the Denver Broncos in the late 80's and the decade of the 90's. Included in that was two Super Bowl Championships.

When the NFL changed their blocking rules to allow offensive linemen to use their hands, Gibbs experimented with zone blocking concepts using smaller, quicker offensive linemen. This allowed teams to align in a one back offense where they could expand their passing game, but also have an effective running attack using zone concepts. Gibbs perfected the inside and outside zone schemes, still used by every NFL team today.

Before he made his NFL reputation, Gibbs was a successful college assistant coach. He was the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at Ohio State in the late 1970's. When Woody Hayes was fired as Ohio State head coach in 1978, Gibbs was hired at Auburn by Doug Barfield in January of 1979. When he hired Gibbs, Barfield said, "We have a great coach here who knows how to win. He will be a great asset at Auburn." Gibbs became offensive coordinator, running the same I formation option attack that Ohio State had used with great success using Auburn runners Joe Cribbs and James Brooks.

When Pat Dye was hired in January of 1981, he kept Gibbs as offensive coordinator running the Auburn wishbone. After one season he moved on to work at Georgia.

Gibbs was never a head coach in college or the pros, turning down offers to continue to do what he loved best-coaching the offensive line. Originally from Thomasville, North Carolina and a graduate of Davidson College, he got a Masters degree from North Carolina State before taking his only head coaching job of his career. From 1966-969, Gibbs was head coach at Mount Airy, North Carolina, the birthplace of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for the Andy Griffith TV show, and even today known as the modern day Mayberry. In three seasons there, he won two North Carolina state championships before going into college coaching.

His last coaching job was in 2013 when he came out of retirement to coach the offensive line for the Broncos once again. Denver, behind Peyton Manning and Alex Gibbs, became Super Bowl champions.


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