Bill Arnsparger, who coordinated the "no-name defense" of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, died Friday, the team confirmed. He was 88.
Born in Kentucky, Arnsparger was a graduate of Miami (OH) University and a World War II veteran. He saw his most success with the Dolphins, installing schemes that gained widespread popularity around football and winning Super Bowl VII after an undefeated season. He soon moved on to New York, where he coached the Giants from 1974-1976, before returning to work with Shula again in Miami. After spending a decade in the collegiate ranks as LSU's head coach and Florida's athletic director, Arnsparger returned to the NFL as San Diego's defensive coordinator in 1992, helping the team to an appearance in Super Bowl XXIX in 1995.
"I was saddened to learn of the passing of Bill Arnsparger who I thought was one of the greatest defensive coaches in football," Shula said Friday in a statement released by the Dolphins. "He molded two championship units, the No-Names and the Killer B's, and was innovative in the way he used personnel. He pioneered situational substitutions with the '53' defense that changed the way the game was played on that side of the ball. If there was a Hall of Fame for assistant coaches, he would be one of the very first inductees. Mary Anne and I want to extend our condolences to B.J. and the entire family."
The Dolphins also released a team statement in tribute to Arnsparger: "Bill Arnsparger was a seminal figure in Dolphins history. Along with Coach Shula and so many other great players and coaches, Bill played a pivotal role in establishing the Dolphins as one of the winningest teams in football and flagship franchises in professional sports. Our hearts and prayers go out to his loved ones and friends during this difficult time."
Chargers owner Dean Spanos called Arnsparger "a genius football strategist and also a true gentleman."