Archie Cooley, the innovative Black college football coach whose offense helped Jerry Rice become a star at Mississippi Valley State, has died, his family announced through the school Thursday. He was 84.

“The MVSU Family sends our condolences to the Cooley Family,” the school said in a social media post, but did not share details about Cooley's death.

Nicknamed “Gunslinger” for his passion for the passing game, Cooley spent 19 seasons as a head coach at four HBCUs and went 83-78-5.

The Mississippi native played both ways at Jackson State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the early 1960s and started his coaching career as a defensive assistant.

He became a head coach for the first time in the SWAC at Mississippi Valley State in 1980. Cooley's five-wide receiver, no-huddle offense helped revolutionize the passing game at a time when many top programs were still using run-heavy attacks.

The Satellite Express offense, with Willie “Satellite” Totten at quarterback and Rice at receiver, set dozens of NCAA records.

Mississippi Valley State made its only Division I-AA playoff appearance in 1984 with Rice setting records with 112 catches for 1,845 yards and 27 touchdowns in 11 games. Rice went on to become a first-round draft pick for the San Francisco 49ers, the NFL's most prolific wide receiver and a Hall of Famer.

Totten threw 58 touchdown passes in 1984 and the Delta Devils averaged 60.9 points per game, a record for Division I-AA/FCS that still exists.

Cooley left MVSU after the 1986 season and took over at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, leading the program from NAIA into the SWAC.

Cooley spent one season at Norfolk State in 1993 and then left coaching. He returned in 2000 with Paul Quinn College in Dallas, helping launch the football program there, though it was disbanded due to funding issues in 2006.

Cooley, who was born Sumrall, Mississippi, just outside of Hattiesburg, was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2007.

Mississippi Valley State said funeral arrangements for Cooley were pending.


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