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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 3, 2009) -- The local community and the ETSU family were in mourning on Saturday, as the life of former ETSU football coach and athletic director John Robert Bell was remembered during a memorial service at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church.
In particular, the Buccaneer athletic program lost one of its greats.
"John Robert Bell stood for what is great about college athletics," said ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Mullins. "What we do everyday is develop student-athletes both on the field of play, in the classroom and in life. Coach Bell understood that better than most."
Bell, who passed away on Christmas day following a long illness, served as head football coach and AD at ETSU from 1966 to 1973. He led the Bucs to the only undefeated record in school history in 1969, as that team went 10-0-1, capturing the OVC Championship, and later winning the NCAA Mid-East regional crown with a 34-14 win over the Terry Bradshaw-led Louisiana Tech team in the Grantland Rice Bowl.
Bell's 1969 and 1970 teams combined for a 17-1-3 record, the best two year mark ever by an ETSU team. For his efforts, Coach Bell was inducted into the ETSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986.