Legendary USF football coach Bob Young dies at 83

Young led the Cougars to their first national title in 1996. Built foundation of the program that led to long-term success.

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Bob Young celebrates winning the 1996 NAIA national football championship with his team. Young, 83, died Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Contributed / University of Sioux Falls

Bob Young, who turned Sioux Falls Cougar football into a small-college powerhouse, died Wednesday, Jan. 25, at the age of 83.

Young, who retired after the 2004 season, led USF (then known as Sioux Falls College) to the NAIA national championship in 1996 after having steadily built the previously moribund program into a contender.

In 22 seasons as the USF coach, Young posted a 172-69-3 record with 13 conference championships. The '96 team was led by quarterback Kurtiss Riggs, wide receiver Kalen DeBoer and defensive back Chuck Morrell, and won that year's title without a true home field or practice facility. They played only two of their 10 regular season games in Sioux Falls that season.

DeBoer succeeded Young as Cougar coach and went 67-3 with three national championships with Morrell and Riggs as his top assistants. DeBoer is now the head coach of the Washington Huskies, with Morrell on his staff. Riggs became the coach of the Sioux Falls Storm indoor football team, leading them to 10 championships.

USF would transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II in 2010, and the Cougars have remained a small college powerhouse on the foundation Young built.


Young, a Beresford native, remained deeply attached to the Cougar program in retirement. When USF finally built its own football stadium in the late 2000s, they named it Bob Young Field. Bob and his wife, Diane, were regulars at the games and stayed in close contact with the players and coaches. They saw two of their grandsons, AJ Garrow and Matt Young, play for the Cougars.

Diane passed away in March of 2020. Funeral services for Coach Young are pending.

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Matt Zimmer

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, began a long career in amateur baseball and started working as a sports freelancer. Zimmer was hired as a sport reporter at the Argus Leader in 2004, where he covered Sioux Falls high schools and colleges before moving to the South Dakota State University beat in 2014.
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