Former North Dakota State University head football coach, assistant football coach and athletic director Ron Erhardt passed away Wednesday. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be posted when available.
Erhardt was the head coach of seven Bison football teams that won six North Central Conference championships, completed three undefeated seasons (1968, 1969 and 1970), and won two College Division national crowns (1968 and 1969).
Erhardt ended his career as the winningest coach in Bison history with a 61-7-1 record. His ballclubs won three postseason bowl games in four tries. He still ranks third all-time at NDSU in victories.
He was the NDSU coach from 1966 to 1972 after serving as an assistant from 1963 to 1965.
A native of Mandan, N.D., Erhadt graduated from Mandan High School in 1949 and was a member of both the 1947 and 1948 state championship football teams.
The 1953 graduate of Jamestown College, Erhardt spent the next two years serving in the military. After leaving the service, he was hired in 1956 as an assistant coach at Williston High School. The following year, Erhardt began an outstanding six-year run as a head coach at two North Dakota Catholic high schools -- from 1957-1959, his teams at New England St. Mary’s compiled a mark of 25-3-1, followed by another three-year run at Minot Bishop Ryan High School, where he was 20-6-1.
After his storied coaching career at North Dakota State, Erhardt became the backfield coach for the New England Patriots of the National Football League in 1973 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1977. He served as the head coach for the Patriots from 1979 to 1981.
Erhardt was subsequently hired as offensive coordinator of the New York Giants by head coach Ray Perkins and continued to serve in that capacity under head coach Bill Parcells. The Giants went on to win two Super Bowls, with Erhardt working around a key injury during the run toward Super Bowl XXV. Quarterback Phil Simms had suffered a season-ending injury late in the season, but his replacement, Jeff Hostetler, navigated the team to the title.
After Parcell’s retirement, Erhardt moved on to serve as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992. Emphasizing the run, Erhardt ran the offense for four years, helping the team reach Super Bowl XXX in 1996. Erhardt left the the Steelers and returned to New York, and an offensive coordinator position with the Jets but eventually retired from coaching professional football in January 1998.
After his retirement, Erhardt continued to serve as a consultant to pro football teams.
He is survived by his wife, Anita, four children and eight grandchildren.