(CNN)Johnny Majors, the college football coach who led the University of Tennessee to three SEC championships and the University of Pittsburgh to a national championship, has died. He was 85.
Johnny Majors, famed college football coach, dies at 85
Majors died early Wednesday at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, according to his wife, Mary Lynn.
"It's with a sad heart that we make this announcement. John passed away this morning," Mary Lynn Majors said in a statement provided to the University of Tennessee.
Majors "spent his last hours doing something he dearly loved: looking out over his cherished Tennessee River," she said.
Majors coached Iowa State from 1968-1972, then the University of Pittsburgh from 1973-1976, where the team won the 1973 Fiesta Bowl and the 1976 National Championship in his final season, alongside Heisman-winning running back Tony Dorsett.
He went back to his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, from 1977-1992. There he won seven bowl games and three SEC championships, and was voted coach of the year multiple times.
"Dynamic on the field. Fierce on the sidelines. Distinguished Tennessean. We mourn the loss of legendary player and coach Johnny Majors—a man who left an indelible mark on Tennessee Football," University of Tennessee Football said on Twitter.
Majors "orchestrated one of the most dramatic turnarounds in college football history" after taking Pittsburgh from a 1-10 season before he arrived to a national championship four years later, Pittsburgh Football wrote.
"Coach Majors set a standard at Pitt that all of us—coaches, student-athletes and administrators—continue to be inspired by," University of Pittsburgh Director of Athletics Heather Lyke said in statement.
"Johnny Majors is one of college football's all-time greatest coaches," Iowa State Football head coach Matt Campbell said.
"Johnny came back every year and it was a pleasure for our players to get to know him and understand his legacy at Iowa State. He was one of the most important figures in Iowa State football history."
Majors, who was a player himself at the University of Tennessee, was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1956. He then went on to coaching 185 wins over his career.
Majors returned to the University of Pittsburgh from 1993-1996, where he ended his coaching career.