Former Modesto Junior College football coach Bob Hoegh, who recently passed away this past Christmas Eve, will be commemorated on March 15 after the former coach insisted on no funeral service.
Hoegh’s life came to an end due to a heart attack on Christmas Eve. He was 84.
The former National Champion head coach was one of a kind when it came to excelling in a profession. He was the MJC head coach from 1968 to 1978 and the architect of the shutdown defense that carried the Pirates to an 11-0 record in 1980.
“Words can't really describe the type of person that coach Hoegh was because he was such a special person,” said friend Mike Glines. “The world truly lost a great person. He was just a wonderful person, but you wouldn't know until you spoke to him because he was so humble.”
Glines met Hoegh at MJC and joined the staff in the late 1970s and was also part of the 1980 staff that won the National Championship title defeating Pasadena City College. He was a former student of Hoegh’s, as well as a colleague and used many of the methods learned with Hoegh when he took over at Central Catholic High, where he became the winningest coach in school history.
Hoegh was a Stanford man, a defensive end for the 1952 Rose Bowl team, and took what he learned to Modesto for a distinguished 34-year career in coaching and education. He played under coach Chuck Taylor at Stanford, and his Rose Bowl appearance — Illinois won 40-7 — was the first televised college football game.
From there, he joined the Army for two years but struggled to find work after his discharge. Eventually, he surfaced at Downey High in 1956 as a history teacher and coach.
Hoegh switched to MJC in 1961, thus kicking off his 29-year term with the Pirates. He served as head football coach from 1968 to 1978 and recorded a 55-45-6 record (.547) with one championship and also coached track and softball.
Hoegh also is believed to be one of the first to use the so-called “zone blitz,” a scheme where pass rushers drop back into coverage.
“He was one of the first guys to bring about the zone blitz, before Dick LeBeau from Pittsburgh made it big,” friend Mick Tate said. “He did so many great things. He never got as much attention as he deserved but it is because he was so generously humble.”
Coach Hoegh had a tremendous memory for all of his students who passed by his life and they all made a big impact on his life because he wanted to help the youth and was a very caring individual.
Among those who passed through Hoegh's reign was local and current Turlock High School football head coach James Peterson.
“He was such an inspirational guy for many people,” said Tate. “He more than fulfilled his job as a coach and was always there to help his players and everyone I talk to they say he was the most fair coach ever and made the game fun for everybody to play.”
Hoegh eventually was inducted into the MJC Hall of Fame and spent his retirement years traveling with wife Donna and doting on five grandchildren.
“Honestly I think the fact that he was the best man in like 17 weddings says what type of person coach Hoegh was,” Glines said. “I struggle for words because he was one of the most genuine human beings you ever knew and what can you say about him is nothing bad, he treated everyone the same, he was special.”
Coach Hoegh will be honored as his close and loved ones will pay a tribute to him on March 15th at the SOS Club.
“He was just a good person. A good man, honest man, fair person and did his job to the utmost and there to help the kids. That was his job and he did a great job of it,” said Tate. “We would like to memorialize him a bit and talk about him and thank him.”