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Bob LaPointe, 1945 – 2012

February 3, 2012

Former EMU head football coach Bob LaPointe passed away Tuesday, January 31.

Born November 5, 1945, two months after the end of World War II, LaPointe was a 1969 EMU graduate. From 1974 through 1977, LaPointe was the head coach at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan, where his team went undefeated and won a state championship in 1975.

In 1978, newly hired EMU head coach Mike Stock brought LaPointe to the university. Three games into the 1982 season Stock was fired, immediately after losing his twenty-second consecutive game, then longest losing streak in the country. LaPointe was named the interim head coach, and the school immediately began a nationwide search for a new coach. The team received widespread attention for their various attempts to end the streak, which included “bringing a coffin to the locker room before the game…as a reminder to ‘kill the streak'”, and hiring a local hypnotist. The team lost his first five games as head coach, two by a single point each, before defeating Kent State 9-7, ending a school-record 27-game losing streak that had lasted more than two years. For the following season, Jim Harkema was brought in as head coach.

In the mid-1980s, LaPointe coached high school football at Notre Dame Preparatory in Pontiac, Michigan, before going to Belleville High School in Belleville, Michigan, where he remaining for nearly 20 years until his retirement in 2010. While at Belleville High School he coached eventual NFL players Kris Jenkins, Cullen Jenkins, and Ian Gold.

According to EMU, there was a visitation last night, and will be another from 3-9 p.m. today at Vermeulen Funeral Home (46401 W Ann Arbor Rd, Plymouth). The funeral service will be tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Ward Presbyterian Church (40000 Six Mile Road) in Northville. Memorial contributions may be made to Belleville High School Football (501 W Columbia, Belleville, MI).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kevin K permalink
    February 3, 2012 11:11 am

    Need to tell a funny story about Bob, who I thought did a great job considering what he walked into… As the team got the nation’s longest losing streak, more and more national media started coming to games to cover …. NY Times, etc. In the aftermath of the 9-7 win over Kent State, which students tore down the goalposts, we all went into the press conference. One of the first questions to Bob from a national media member was: “How do you think this will change the program?” Without missing a beat, LaPointe answered with a smile: “Well, I guess most of you (national media) won’t be back next week.” He was right. RIP Bob.

  2. Kenneth Barna permalink
    February 3, 2012 9:03 pm

    Dear cmadler,
    Bob La Pointe was a fraternity brother of mine. He was one of many of my brothers that went into coaching. We were proud of all of them, because coaching is teaching, and we knew that Eastern has always graduated fine teachers, who became leaders in the communities that they served.
    Personally, I thought Bob wasn’t given a fair chance at Eastern, but I can understand their (Eastern’s) reluctance to hire him since he was connected to Coach Stock.
    In either case, Bob proved through the years that if winning was the only criteria for success, then he did just that….he won.

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