LOGAN — John Ralston, the former head football coach at Utah State, Stanford, San Jose State and Denver Broncos, has died. He was 92. According to San Jose State Athletic Media Relations, Ralston died in Sunnyvale, California on Saturday, September 14.
Ralston was the head coach at Utah State for four seasons, from 1959-62. USU was his first head coaching job after being an assistant coach at Cal for three seasons. During his time in Logan, he won two Skyline Conference championships and took the Aggies to two bowl games, the Sun Bowl in 1960 and the Gotham Bowl in 1961. Ralston coached three-time academic All-American Merlin Olsen. Olsen later went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the National Football League. The Aggies finished 10th in 1961 in both the Coaches and United Press International polls, the highest ever finish for USU. During his tenure as the head coach at Utah State, Ralston compiled a record of 31-11-1.
His success at USU got him noticed in the Bay Area where he returned to coach Stanford for nine seasons, winning two Rose Bowls and returning to the national polls in each of his last four seasons. In 1972, Ralston left the college game to become the head coach at the Denver Broncos in the NFL. Ralston left Denver in 1976 with a 34-33-3 record in five seasons and then coached the Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League from 1983-84.
Ralston was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992, but wasn’t done coaching. In 1993, he returned to the college game at San Jose State. He coached the Spartans from 1993-96. The 1996 season was the team’s inaugural season in the Western Athletic Conference.
Ralston later worked as special assistant to the athletic director at SJSU.
Ralston served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the South Pacific in World War II, achieving the rank of corporal.