BOONE, N.C., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Jim Brakefield, who helped develop the wishbone offense into a weapon that allowed one of his teams to win 20 straight college football games, died Monday. He was 83.
As an assistant at Wofford in the late 1960s, Brakefield helped coach Conley Snidow build a double-option attack that later became known as the "Y Formation" or wishbone.
Brakefield took over for Snidow in 1967 and mentored football minds like Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, making the wide-open offense his trademark.
DeBerry, who has been at Air Force the past 19 seasons, said he owes everything in his career to Brakefield.
In 1969, top-ranked Wofford lost its first two games before reeling off 20 straight wins, a two-year streak that ended with a 48-7 loss to Texas A&I - now Texas A&M-Kingsville - in the NAIA Division I Champion Bowl.
After a 28-16 run with the Terriers, Brakefield moved on to Appalachian State, where he coached nine seasons and oversaw the transition of an NAIA program to NCAA Division I.
In 1975, Brakefield put Mountaineers football on the map by leading the team to road victories over Wake Forest and South Carolina.
While at Appalachian, Brakefield and his staff conducted annual summer clinics on the wishbone. High school coaches from Washington D.C. to Florida attended the lectures and spread the offensive philosophy.
Brakefield went 47-48-4 with the Mountaineers, retiring after the 1979 season at the age of 61. He remained in Boone, N.C., following his career but recently moved to Louisville, Ky.
A native of Alabama, Brakefield was much more than a football coach. He won two distinguished flying crosses following 49 combat missions as a torpedo plane pilot in World War II before retiring from the Navy in 1967. "The man of the utmost integrity," Laney said of Brakefield, who spent 17 years as a baseball coach at Emory & Henry and Wofford.