Joe Tiller, Purdue’s all-time winningest coach, died Saturday morning at the age of 74, the program announced.
We are saddened to report that Joe Tiller has passed away in Buffalo, Wyoming. Condolences to Arnette, Julie, Renee and Mike. RIP.
— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) September 30, 2017
Tiller had an 87-62 record during his tenure with the Boilermakers, which lasted from 1997 to 2008. He beat No. 15 Notre Dame in his second game as Purdue’s head coach en route to finishing No. 15 and winning the Alamo Bowl in his first season. Tiller also led Purdue to the 2001 Rose Bowl, the team’s first Rose Bowl appearance since 1967.
The program did not release details on his condition. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin asked for prayers for Tiller during Sumlin’s appearance at SEC Media Days.
“Joe has some health issues but is doing OK,” a Purdue spokesman told USA Today at the time.
Tiller had celebrity status at Boilermakers games after he retired.
“The first couple of years I went back, I couldn’t get (from) the parking lot to the press box,” Tiller told Land of 10’s Sean Keeler in 2016. “Once I stopped for a picture, then the line went on and on. And so my wife told me, ‘We’ve got to leave an hour before the game to get to the press box, because your fan club is still following you.’
“They have little tailgates there for former players — I always stop in and see if I can run into some of our former players. And even guys who (played) way back when. I always stop in with the tailgates and former players and work my way to the press box from there. So I still had several people that said, ‘Hey, Coach,’ [and] you could imagine what they said to me. If I heard it once, I heard it 100 times: ‘Come back. Come back, please.’ I just put my head down and keep walking, because we don’t want to get involved with something like that. We feel welcome at Purdue, and they’ve treated me well. They’ve probably treated me better since I’ve retired than when I was coaching there.”