Former North Texas Football Coach Corky Nelson Dies

Corky Nelson
UPDATED Nov. 21, 2014

Clark "Corky" Nelson, one of the winningest coaches in North Texas football history, died Monday at the age of 75.

Coach Nelson died Monday morning, Nov. 17, 2014, in a hospital in Temple, Texas. Memorial services will be Sunday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. at the Temple Bible Church, 3205 Oakview Drive, in Temple. Coach Nelson is survived by his wife Judy Buckles Nelson (former women's basketball coach at North Texas) and two daughters.

Nelson, who was inducted into the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013, brought order to Mean Green football after a tumultuous three-year span.

After coach Hayden Fry left North Texas following the 1978 season, the Mean Green played two years under Jerry Moore before he departed for Texas Tech, then one year under Bob Tyler. Nelson took over the program and engineered five winning seasons.

Nelson coached the North Texas football team from 1982 to 1990, recording 48 wins, the third most in school history. Nelson's teams won the Southland Conference championship in 1983, and made three trips to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. He was named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year in 1983 and coached a total of 29 all-conference players at North Texas.

Nelson's teams registered several impressive victories over Division I opponents, including New Mexico (18-8, 1983), Kansas State (22-10, 1985), TCU (24-20, 1986), Texas Tech (29-24, 1988), Rice (33-17, 1988) and SMU (14-7, 1990).

Nelson also coached two future NFL Hall of Famers in Earl Campbell (Tyler John Tyler High School) and Mike Singletary (Baylor). Nelson served in a dual role of head football coach and athletic director for one year, in 1990.

Nelson was an all-conference linebacker and center at Texas State University–San Marcos, and began his coaching career in Texas high-school football. He coached defensive line and linebackers at North Texas, but returned to the high-school ranks after one season.

In 1971, Nelson became head coach at John Tyler High School. In 1973, he guided the Lions, who featured future Heisman-Trophy winner and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell, to a 15–0 season and the Texas 5A state championship. From there, Nelson became defensive coordinator at Baylor under coach Grant Teaff, then was named head coach at North Texas in 1982.

He was later an assistant coach at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, for five years.

Nelson was preceded in death by one daughter, Carlyn Nelson. Survivors include his wife, Judy Nelson of Belton; two daughters, Tracy Clark and Kerie Nelson-Echols, both of Austin; one brother, Lewis Nelson and wife Ann of San Antonio; and two grandchildren, Audrey Clark and Nate Clark.

Memorials may be made to the Parkinson's Disease Fondation, 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, New York 10018 or the Corky Nelson Memorial Scholarship at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.



North Texas Mean Green