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Legendary Purdue coach with Crimson connections Joe Tiller passes away

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Tiller was 74.

Northwestern v Purdue Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Joe Tiller, who served as the Washington State Cougars’ offensive coordinator on two separate occasions and is the winningest coach in Purdue history, passed away on Saturday at age 74. Tiller was known for his innovations with the spread attack that he made his own after learning under Cougar legend Mike Price.

Tiller was a college lineman for Montana State before also starting his coaching career there. He followed coach Jim Sweeney to WSU, where he served as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator in Pullman. He helped develop a powerful rushing attack for the Cougars led by running back Andrew Jones.

He left WSU for the CFL in 1974, but returned to the Palouse with the arrival of Mike Price. Price brought Tiller in as his assistant head coach and offensive coordinator after Tiller had a successful stint with the Wyoming Cowboys in the same position. He was instrumental in a Pac-10 offensive player of the year performance for running back Steve Broussard. He also coached Drew Bledsoe before being hired as Wyoming’s head coach.

Tiller moved on to Wyoming and then the Purdue Boilermakers to great success with his “basketball on grass” offense. He borrowed greatly from the offenses pioneered by Cougar head coaches Dennis Erickson and Mike Price for his own version of the spread. Tiller and quarterback Drew Brees led Purdue to the 2001 Rose Bowl. He retired in 2008.

Many former players have come out the past few days with tributes to their beloved coach. He will be sorely missed.

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