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OU football: Lincoln Riley, Joe Castiglione, OU President Joseph Harroz give condolences after death of former Sooners coach John Blake

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OU Helmet

An OU helmet sitting on the field before the Bedlam game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 30, 2019.

Former Oklahoma head coach John Blake, 59, died after suffering a heart attack on Thursday. He was the first Black head coach in the program's history.

Before coaching the Sooners from 1996 to 1998, Blake played nose guard for OU from 1979 to 1982.

In a statement released by the university, Lincoln Riley shared his condolences for Blake's passing, along with OU Athletics Director Joe Castiglione and OU President Joseph Harroz.

"The thing I've always heard about Coach Blake is how much he loved and cared for his players and how those feelings were reciprocal," Riley said in the statement. "That's such a profound element of the coaching profession — developing bonds with players that extend beyond the field. Our program is very saddened to learn of Coach Blake's passing and we extend our deepest condolences to his family. Everything I know about him is that he loved being a Sooner."

"We are stunned and saddened by the news of Coach Blake's passing," said Castiglione, who took over as Oklahoma's AD after Blake left the program.

"He was never hesitant in displaying love for his family, his players or how much he valued the honor of being a Sooner. His legacy as OU's first Black head coach in any sport is incredibly meaningful and will live on forever. We offer our heartfelt thoughts and our prayers to his family. He was a Sooner through and through."

Lastly, Harroz touched on how Blake laid the groundwork for OU's early success under the program's next head coach, Bob Stoops.

"I join the entire Sooner Nation in mourning Coach Blake's passing," he said. "His years of service to our university and Sooner football were critical building blocks to our program's success and the impact he had on our student-athletes is indelible. My sincerest sympathies and prayers are with the Blake family."

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