MSU Hall Of Famer Henry Bullough Passes Away

“Michigan State has lost a great Spartan and the game of football has lost a coaching legend,” said MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio.

97.1 The Ticket
November 25, 2019 - 2:42 pm
Henry Bullough with Duffy Daugherty.

Credit: Michigan State


EAST LANSING, Mich. – Former Spartan player and assistant coach Henry Bullough, a member of the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 24. He was 85 (1934-2019).


A three-year letterwinner from 1952-54 and a 12-year assistant coach (1959-69, 1994), Bullough was inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013. His impressive career included winning a National Championship as both a Spartan player (1952) and coach (1965-1966), and a Super Bowl ring as an assistant coach with the Colts during the 1970 season.


“Michigan State has lost a great Spartan and the game of football has lost a coaching legend,” said MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio. “I met Hank the first day I came to Michigan State as an assistant coach in 1995, when he was leaving as the defensive coordinator under Coach Perles. He made an immediate impact on me.


“I had the honor of coaching three of his grandsons in Max, Riley and Byron over a period of nine seasons (from 2010-18), and his son Chuck is currently on our staff.


“Hank was a tremendous defensive coach and widely respected across the country. He would actively come up to the offices and talk with our defensive coaches, and shared many ideas and philosophies over the years with our staff.


“Hank lived and breathed green and white. He was extremely active in the Michigan State Football Players Association and led the organization for a number of years. He was also instrumental in helping create the George Webster Scholarship Program, which is a huge benefit for our program.


“The Spartan football family sends our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Bullough family.”


A three-year starter, Bullough helped MSU to a combined record of 21-7 (.750) from 1952-54, including the 1952 National Championship and 1953 Big Ten title. As a sophomore for Clarence "Biggie" Munn in 1952, Bullough played both on the offense and defensive lines, as the Spartans finished second nationally in total offense, averaging nearly 429 yards per game including 272 yards on the ground, and No. 1 in rushing defense, allowing just 84 yards per game. The 6-foot, 200-pound Bullough was named honorable mention All-Big Ten as both a junior and senior while starting at guard.

The Canton, Ohio, native was selected in the fifth round of the 1955 National Football League Draft by the Green Bay Packers, where he played two seasons (1955 and '58).

He spent 12 years as an assistant coach at Michigan State, including 11 seasons under Duffy Daugherty (1959-69) and one year under George Perles (1994). Bullough served as defensive coordinator for MSU's back-to-back National Championship and Big Ten Championship teams in 1965 and 1966. Two of his pupils, defensive end Charles “Bubba” Smith (No. 1 overall) and linebacker George Webster (No. 5), were among the top five selections in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft.

The Spartans set school single-season records in 1965 for rushing defense (47.3 ypg), scoring defense (5.6 ppg) and total defense (173.2 ypg), marks that still stand today, and ranked No. 1 in the NCAA in scoring defense and rushing defense. The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games in both 1965 and 1966 in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.

Bullough spent more than 20 seasons in the NFL, including stints in Baltimore (1970-73), New England (1973-79), Cincinnati (1980-83), Buffalo (1985-86), Green Bay (1988-92) and Detroit (1993), and became known as the "Doctor of Defense." He won a Super Bowl ring as linebackers coach under Don McCafferty with the Baltimore Colts in 1970. While serving as defensive coordinator in New England in 1974, Bullough is credited with introducing the 3-4 defense to the NFL. He closed out the 1978 campaign as co-head coach of the New England Patriots. In 1983 as defensive coordinator with the Bengals, Cincinnati led the NFL in total defense (270.4 ypg.) while ranking second in rushing defense (93.7 ypg.) and third in passing defense (176.8 ypg.). He also was on the Bengals coaching staff for Super Bowl XVI against San Francisco. Bullough later served as head coach of the Buffalo Bills for 21 games (1985-86).

"Thanks to Michigan State, I accomplished everything I could have hoped for in my profession,” Bullough said in 2013, when he was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame. “I played here during the 28-game winning streak (1950-53), played on the 1952 National Championship team and coached for the 1965 and '66 National Championship teams. In 1970, I won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Colts. There aren't many who have been involved in this game that can say that. I've been very fortunate. For me, Michigan State is a place where a student can come and accomplish whatever he or she wants to because this University offers so many opportunities.”

In 2004, he was named president of the MSU Football Players Association and later became executive director of the organization.

Born Jan. 24, 1934, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Bullough attended high school in Canton, Ohio. At Timken Vocational High in Canton, he earned honorable mention all-state accolades in football.

Bullough earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Michigan State in 1955. He played a season with the Green Bay Packers in 1955 before serving in the Army, and was discharged in time to rejoin Green Bay for the 1958 season.

Bullough’s legacy extends to his impressive family tree, as his sons Shane (1983-86) and Chuck (1988-91), and grandsons Max (2010-13), Riley (2013-16) and Byron (2015-18) all lettered as linebackers for the Spartans. Shane was a captain and first-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior in 1986, and Chuck set the MSU single-season tackles record with 175 as a senior in 1991 while earning first-team all-league honors. Max was a two-time captain and two-time first-team All-Big Ten middle linebacker (2012-13), Riley picked up third-team all-conference accolades twice (2015-16) and was a captain as a senior, and Byron was a four-year letterwinner who served on the team’s Eagles Leadership Council. Chuck is in his second year on Mark Dantonio’s staff as the defensive ends coach the Spartans.