FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of former head coach Dick MacPherson at the age of 86.
MacPherson was named the 11th head coach of the Patriots on Jan. 7, 1991, and served as head coach for two seasons (1991-92). He came to New England after a successful 10-year stint as head coach of Syracuse University.
MacPherson took over a Patriots team that finished with a 1-15 record and led the team to a five-game improvement in his first season. He helped lead the Patriots to victories over three 1991 playoff teams and a 6-10 finish. In addition, the club lost three games by seven points or less. The five-game improvement helped MacPherson to finish fifth in NFL Coach of the Year balloting.
MacPherson compiled a 66-46-4 career record in 10 years at Syracuse. The Syracuse football program had been to just one bowl game in 19 years before his arrival. MacPherson turned Syracuse into a perennial national power. He led Syracuse to four consecutive bowl appearances (1987-90) and five in his last six years as coach.
He went to Syracuse from the Cleveland Browns, where he served a linebackers coach from 1978-80. After short stints at University of Illinois and University of Massachusetts, MacPherson was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati (1961-65) before moving to the University of Maryland (1966). He broke into the NFL ranks in 1967 as a linebackers and defensive backs coach with the Denver Broncos. He later became defensive coordinator with the Broncos and remained there through the 1970 season. He left the Denver staff in 1971 to become the head coach at the University of Massachusetts (1971-77). He turned around what had been a struggling program. In seven seasons with the Minutemen, MacPherson's teams won four Yankee Conference championships.
A native of Old Town, Maine, MacPherson played center and earned three letters at Springfield College. He was a star on the 1956 undefeated squad and was captain of the team as a senior.