Former MSU Football Coach George Perles Dies [Video]
George Perles, who briefly resurrected MSU football to national prominence in the mid-80s passed away at his East Lansing home Tuesday. He was 85.
Perles was a controversial figure during his 12 year tenure (1982-1994) at Michigan State. He did what he said he would -- took the Spartans to the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions in 1987, but he also left a trail of NCAA violations.
Perles, who played at MSU for Duffy Daugherty in the '50s, took over the head coaching reins in 1982 following a successful pro career as defensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was partly responsible for the famed 'Steel Curtain' defense for the Steelers which led the team to four Super Bowl titles.
Taking over for Muddy Waters in 1982, he promised he would return State to national college football prominence, and he did, leading the Spartans to the 1987 Big Ten title with a 7-0-1 league mark and a 9-2-1 overall record. Only Notre Dame and Florida State defeated the Spartans that season, and they capped it off with a 20-17 Rose Bowl win over USC. The Spartans finished the season ranked 8th in the country.
But soon problems arose. Rumors of steroid abuse ran rampant after top draft pick lineman Tony Mandarich failed to gain footing in the pros. Mandarich later admitted to Sports Illustrated using illegal steroids and said he started using them at MSU.
Perles later became State's Athletic Director and banged heads with the MSU administration, eventually being forced out amidst NCAA violations which forced the team to forfeit five wins in the 1994 season. He was succeeded by Nick Saban.
Later, as a MSU Trustee, Perles was accused of looking the other way in the famed Larry Nassar sexual assault case. He resigned from his position, citing health reasons.
It is not known what the cause of death was, but Perles admitted in 2017 that he had Parkinson's Disease.