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Coach Robert “Bob” Cole’s Tribute

Biography of Robert “Bob” Cole

He was a man of few words, but when he spoke his athletes listened. He was the longest-tenured track and field coach in school history and was equal in conference championship wins with Charles Ray Lancon who would follow him six years later. Each produced more all Americans than any other Bulldog/Ragin’ Cajun sport and each produced national champions in various Track & Field events.

A native of Sulphur, Louisiana, Robert M. “Bob” Cole won his first conference championship at USL in 1965 with a team composed primarily of Acadiana area athletes who were dead last the year before. Those who stayed bought into his way of thinking and won. His message was simple and to the point: “It’s my way or the highway.”

A graduate of Northeast Louisiana State College (now ULM), he was a star baseball player at both Northeast and SLI in the late 1940’s. After his graduation from Northeast, he returned to his native southwest Louisiana as a high school coach at Sulphur and LaGrange, where he excelled from the outset. In 1963 he came to USL in a dual role as assistant football coach under Russ Faulkinberry and Head Track Coach. He was known for his ability to recruit area talent and motivate them into becoming champions and he did that in both sports.

As a track coach he became a father-figure to many and was highly respected among his coaching peers. He was named “National Coach of the Year” in 1967 and “Coach Of The Year” in the Gulf States Conference on five occasions and three in the Southland Conference in both Cross Country and Track and Field. He is the only modern-day varsity coach in SLI, USL, UL history to achieve “National Coach of the Year” acclaim.

He retired in 1984 and moved to Toledo Bend where he enjoyed daily fishing and/or hunting outings until he became ill twenty years later. He died in 2007 after a brief battle with cancer, leaving two children – Bob, Jr. and Donna – and hundreds of athletes who are quick to tell they are who they are because of him.

Submitted by Stewart Blue, Track & Field 1966-69, on 9/14/2017.

For photos of Coach Cole’s Track & Field teams, click on www.athleticnetwork.net – Photo Gallery – Track & Field, and the years 1963-84.

To view photos of the football teams during his football coaching tenure at USL, click on www.athleticnetwork.net – Photo Gallery – Football, and the years 1963-67.

Click here for Coach Cole’s Athletic Network Profile.

Click here for the 1967 Track & Field Photo Gallery. It includes Coach Cole being named NAIA National Coach of the Year, the Cross Country and Outdoor Track & Field Conference Championship teams, and Robert L. Browne, founder of the Southwestern Relays, presenting John McDonnell the Outstanding Track man award at the 1967 Southwestern Relays.

To view videos of the Southwestern Relays at McNaspy Stadium during the 1965, 1966, 1967 & 1968 seasons, click on the Photo Gallery – Track & Field – then each of the years listed.

Click on the Ragin’ Cajuns Reunions and Special Events (Banner on the right side of the News Box at www.athleticnetwork.net )
In October, 2009, a small reunion for the 1969-75 years was held. This reunion was followed by three consecutive annual reunions for all former Track & Field athletes in March, 2010, 2011, 2012.

Photo Galleries for each of these reunions are posted on the Athletic Network, including a one-hour video (timer script posted) of the 2012 reunion where Olympians, National Champions, All-Americans and many more were honored.

Click here for the 2012 reunion video at the Petroleum Club. The 2012 reunion also contains three digital photo galleries.

Click here for the written program and commemorative banner of the 2012 reunion.

Click here for the 1965 Football Photo Gallery. Note the signage in the team photo – we were the “Raging” Cajuns before the Ragin’ Cajuns. Coach Cole is pictured with the four other football coaches who won our first conference football championship of the Faulkinberry era.

Click here to view Coach Bob Cole’s obituary and a story by Dan McDonald written at that time.

Click here for Coach Bob Cole’s eulogy written and delivered by Stewart Blue.

Click here to view an article by Dan McDonald in The Advertiser calling for Coaches Cole and Lancon to be honored.

Click here to view the listing of the D-1 Conference Championships. The seven Men’s Cross Country and six Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Conference Championships of the Coach Cole era are listed there.

Posted by Dr. Ed Dugas athleticnetwork@louisiana.edu